SOUTHERN Grampians Shire has made use of a little-known legal strategy to hold a rental resident liable for their landlord’s unpaid rate debts.
A Hamilton resident, who asked not to be named, told The Spectator that he was hand-delivered an envelope last month that demanded ‘the occupier’ of the property pay their rent directly to the shire.
The notice said that under Section 177 of the Victorian Local Government Act of 1989, ‘the occupier’ must pay redirect their rent payments until a rate bill for $1800 was paid off.
Shire chief executive, Richard Perry said the act allowed the shire to use rent payments to pay off a landowner’s rates debt “in certain situations”.
“The renter is no worse off in this situation, they continue to pay their normal weekly rent until the owner’s unpaid rates are recovered,” he said.
“Once the debt is repaid, the rent continues to go to the owner.”
The renter said he would be willing to meet the terms of the notice except that it would cause issues with his real estate agent.
“I was surprised by the notice, but then became confused when I contacted my real estate agent,” he said.
“I don’t have a problem with changing the rent payments, but I don’t want to damage my commercial relationship with the real estate agent.
“The agent said I would be in breach of my rental contract if I stopped paying them.”
Adding to the pressure is the fact that the renter is not only caught between the shire and his real estate agent, but has been threatened with legal action.
Full story in the Spectator on Thursday, December 12, 2013