Concluding a years-long battle over unpaid rates, the Beerepoot family’s home has been sold by Meander Valley Council for just $120,000 to reclaim three years’ worth of unpaid rates.
“The sale has taken place, the property has been sold, there’ll be new owners,” Meander Valley mayor Craig Perkins said after the auction on Friday.
“They’ve picked up a property in a lovely part of Tasmania, I suspect significantly under market value and they can now become rightful owners of it.”
The Beerepoot family ceased paying rates on their house in Mole Creek, and their Chudleigh-based Melita Honey Farm and shop, about seven years ago.
In a letter to council written in February, the family said that they believed the land belonged to their Heavenly Father, and that by asking for money council was “asking us to bow down to a false god which is something we cannot do”.
After years of negotiations and the required three-year waiting period before enforced sale became an option for council to pursue, in March the council finally moved to sell the three properties to reclaim $9332 in unpaid rates.
Cr Perkins said a member of the community later paid the rates owing on the farm and shop after recognising the importance of the business to the Chudleigh town economy.
However, that left about $3500 unpaid rates still owing on the Beerepoot’s home in Mole Creek, and in July council awarded a tender to First National Deloraine’s Brian Claridge to conduct the sale.
Cr Perkins said the family had communicated their understanding of the process to council last month and “reaffirmed their belief that the land is owned by God”.
“I hope that they cooperate now with the process for sale and leave the property, and make it a smooth transition,” he said.
With about 20 registered bidders and interested parties attending, the property was snapped up by an over-the-phone bidder for $120,000 after just six minutes, following a starting bid of $20,000.
Any remaining funds from the sale, after council has covered rates and costs associated with the auction, will return to the property owners.
Cr Perkins said he hoped the highly unusual situation would serve as a reminder for the family to pay rates on their remaining two properties.
“Not many mayors around Australia would have to face this,” he said, adding that while some councillors were “challenged” by the decision, ultimately he felt it was a straightforward action to sell the property.
The Beerepoot family declined to comment when contacted by The Examiner.