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Auction notices for the sale of land for unpaid rates

Purpose

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide information to local governments regarding the inclusion of a landowner’s name on auction notices for the sale of land for unpaid rates.

Background

The Local Government Act 2009 (the Act) empowers a local government to sell land to recover unpaid rates. To do so, the local government must, under section 142 of the Local Government Regulation 2012 (the Regulation) prepare an auction notice. Certain particulars are required to be included in the notice, including ‘the time and place of the auction’ and ‘a full description of the land’.

The Queensland Ombudsman investigated concerns raised by a member of the public about the inclusion of a landowner’s name in an auction notice issued by the Toowoomba Regional Council (the council) under section 142 of the Regulation. The Ombudsman’s report (the report) into the administrative action of the council was published on 21 December 2016.

The report made three recommendations:

  1. Council cease including landowners’ names in its auction notices.
  2. Council review the information that is publicly available relating to land to be sold for overdue rates and charges and make changes to its procedures to ensure no unnecessary publishing of a landowner’s name occurs.
  3. The Director-General, Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning provide advice to all Queensland councils to the effect that it is not necessary under the legislative scheme for landowners’ names to be published by councils in auction notices.

Relevant issues

The Ombudsman found there was no express legislative requirement to include the homeowner’s name on the auction notice and found “that the term ‘a full description of the land’ in section 142(4)(b) of the Regulation should not properly be interpreted as including the name of the homeowner”. The Ombudsman did not consider there was any requirement in the statutory scheme for council to include the homeowner’s name on the auction notice.

The Ombudsman also found that council’s decision to include the name of the homeowner on the auction notice was unreasonable.

Whilst councils are encouraged to consider their sale of land procedures in light of the Ombudsman’s report, in the absence of any statutory requirement, any decision regarding the inclusion of an owner’s name in an auction notice remains a matter for the council’s discretion.

Further Information

Any further enquiries on this matter should be addressed to:

Mr Tim Dunne
Manager, Program Implementation and Review
Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning
P: (07) 3452 6743
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..