Meander Valley Gazette

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Council dilemma as sale money returned

NewsJoanne EisemannComment

June 2018 | Sharon Webb

FAMILY whose home was sold by Meander Valley Council because they owed $3,500 in rates has returned around $105,000 to the council from the house sale money.

And the new owner of the property will write to the council requesting compensation for $50,000 in missing fixtures and fittings from the property.

Both moves shift Meander Valley Council into uncharted waters and the council manager has confirmed he will take legal advice on the “unfolding situation”.

The council auctioned Blue Wren Hideaway, a house on 2.4 hectares in Mole Creek, in September 2017 for $120,000 to recoup the rates, unpaid because the Beerepoot family owners believed the land was “owned by God”.

After the council deducted around $15,000 for the rates and auction costs, it returned around $105,000 to the Beerepoot family.

But it is believed that a Beerepoot family member Remmo turned up at the Westbury council chambers with $105,000 in cash to return to the council because the family views the auction as a hostile sale and don’t wish to collude with it.

Former property owner Mrs Alida Beerepoot refused to comment on whether the family had returned the money.

“It’s between us and the council and we don’t want any newspaper stories on it,” she said.

Council general manager Martin Gill would not confirm or deny that the Beerepoots had returned the money.

But he did verify that he had advised the new owner, Mr Geoffrey Styles, to write to the council stating his concerns about the property’s missing fittings and fixtures.

“I also advised that Mr Styles should state his thoughts on what should happen to the returned funds,” Mr Gill said.

Mr Styles said he would write to the council seeking compensation for the missing fittings and fixtures.

“I had a long conversation with Mrs Beerepoot and she told me the family had returned the money to the council and why,” he said. “I also believe the council, when it took on the property sale, had a duty of care to ensure the house and contents were secure.”

Mr Styles’ insurance company, CGU, will not pay out on the stolen goods because Tasmania Police have said the theft is a civil matter and won’t provide the insurance company with a police report. Mr Styles has taken up the issue with the Financial Ombudsman Service Australia.

Mr Gill said Tasmania’s local government legislation provides no guidance on council’s responsibility for the returned house sale money.

“If we were to receive money like that we would hold it and explore the situation with our lawyers,” he said.