The former owners of a Meander Valley property, that was sold to recoup rates, have returned the $105,000 sale proceeds in cash to the council because they claim the money belongs to God.
However, the property’s new owner Geoff Styles is now seeking part of the money from the council because he claims the previous owners “stripped the property bare” of about $50,000 of “fixtures and fittings”, and his insurance company is refusing to pay.
The Beerepoot family, who did not pay their rates because the land was “owned by god”, returned the cash to the council in January with a letter providing an explanation:
“Remitting the balance of the funds remaining of the sale to our family does not absolve the Meander Valley Council or its officers of their responsibility towards the Most High,” the letter said.
“The actions that have been undertaken have been against Him and not our family. Therefore responsibility lies with Him and not with us. We therefore reject the (money) that has recently been remitted to us.”
Since the money has been returned, the council has done “nothing” with the funds, its general manager Martin Gill said.
Mr Styles claimed the property was “unlivable” after he took over the property in October.
“There were bare wires hanging out of walls and ceilings. Vanity basins, cook tops, range hoods, and all the light fittings were taken, it was virtually gutted,” he said.
He said the former owners were still living at the property until at least September 17.
Mr Styles said when he took over the Mole Creek property it had no power or water because the previous owners had taken the pumps.
Despite Mr Styles insuring the property during settlement, his insurance company will not pay for the damages because he has no proof the goods were there on the day of the auction.
His finance broker John Wilkinson of Rural Co Insurance Burnie is helping Mr Styles, along with the Financial Ombudsman Service to solve the dispute.
Mr Gill said the new property owner had been in contact with the council, but had not made any request for funds.
“I have actually written a letter to the council, but it’s going through the process at the moment,” Mr Styles said.
“At the end of the day, if I hadn’t have been told by Mrs Beerepoot that they had given the money back, the council might have never told me.”
Mr Styles said he had approached the previous owners to find out if they had taken the fittings
When Mr Styles took ownership of the property on December 12, 2017, Mr Gill said he “did not know” if there was any damage to the house.
Mr Gill said he was unsure how long the property had been vacant for in between the Beerepoot family vacating and Mr Styles moving in.
Mr Styles brought the property for $120,000. The Meander Valley Council took $15,000 to recover the rates and legal fees. The remaining funds were given to the Beerepoots.
The Beerepoot family and the ombudsmen were contacted for comment. Tasmania Police said the theft was a civil matter and would not comment further.
Mr Styles’ insurance company was contacted for comment.