The leader of Douglas Borough Council David Christian has said the council will be ‘relentless’ in recovering outstanding rate arrears through the legal process.
Councillor Christian was speaking following the successful outcome of recent legal action taken against three property owners.
During May and June, the council applied for orders for the Coroner of Middle to seize three properties and sell them in order to obtain outstanding amounts due to rates.
In the first hearing the council was granted possession of the property which was sold at Coroner’s auction on August 10, 2017.
In a second hearing the council was awarded legal costs of £2,200 and an attachment of earnings order (where the debt is paid directly by the employer) was made against the defendant.
A third hearing saw the defendant ordered to pay all outstanding arrears by August 23. The case was adjourned until September 1, 2017 when the council will be seeking all legal costs incurred.
In addition, legal action by the council has led to a further 16 properties in the process of being sold to recover outstanding rates amounting to £32,668.26. 14 of the properties are owned by non- Isle of Man residents.
Councillor Christian said: ‘These recent successful prosecutions send out a clear message: that the council will be relentless and have no hesitation in taking legal action and ultimately seeking possession of these properties to be sold at Coroner’s auction in order to recover rate arrears. Substantial debts such as these potentially place an unwarranted burden on the vast majority of responsible property owners who pay their rates on time. Collecting rates is the means by which the council has the financial resources to deliver services to its customers; failure to pay rates therefore not only impacts directly on the council but also, in the longer term, on the wider community of Douglas.
‘In all of the above cases, the rates debtors had had multiple correspondence from both the council and our advocates which they chose to ignore. Court proceedings of this nature are the end of a very long process. I would urge anyone who is having difficulty in paying their rates to talk to the council to make some arrangement to pay.’