Rates FAQs

Below you will find frequently asked questions and information relating to Environment Canterbury rates including how rates are set, spend and collected. To find out more contact us online or phone us on 0800 329 276.

How do I pay rates?

The details for payment options are available from your City or District Council. Visit your City or District Council website for more information.

Who collects my rates?

Your City or District Council collects rates on our behalf. This helps to keep collection costs down, and make payments more simple for you. Visit your City or District Council website for more information.

When are my rates due?

The details for dates of payment are available from your City or District Council. Visit your City or District Council website for more information.

Where do my rates go?

Rates help to cover council costs. costs fall into six portfolios, which help us to deliver the services outlined in our Long Term Plan. You can find out more about these portfolios and costs in our Rates Tool.

Who pays rates?

Everyone who owns property in Canterbury pays regional council rates.

What is a 'general' rate?

General rates are paid by all property owners. They are determined based on the capital value of a property and its location.

What if I can't afford my rates?

In certain circumstances, payment of rates may be postponed or remitted (discounted). See our Rates Postponement Policy (PDF File, 150.13KB) for more information.

The Government’s Rates Rebate Scheme

You could get a rates reduction as part of the government's rate rebate scheme, which provides rates assistance to low income earners. You can pick up an application form at your local district or city council, or find more out about the scheme and whether you are eligible on the Government’s Rates Rebate Scheme website.

What is a 'targeted' rate?

Targeted rates are charged where there is a specific benefit to the property owner from a specific activity like flood protection works, that benefit properties in that particular area – ie they are targeted geographically. Targeted rates may also apply universally to fund a specific activity – ie they are targeted to an activity - where it is important that the community can see the amount being spent specifically on that activity.

How are rates set and how is the level determined?

Rates are set by the Council when it adopts the Annual Plan. When setting rates and fees/charges, Council uses the principles in the Revenue & Financing Policy, balancing what is affordable for the community and who should pay for the activity, with the outcome that the activity will give the community and how quickly it needs to be achieved. It isn’t possible to do all the things that need doing immediately, so this balance is crucial to keeping rates affordable and activity on track.

As rates vary from property to property, we talk about ‘total rates revenue’ (ie the total revenue from general rates and targeted rates across the region) when talking about rates increases or decreases. This means a 5% rates increase, for example, won’t necessarily mean your individual rates will increase by 5%. Your individual rate could increase by more or less than 5% depending on your split of targeted and general rates.

How can I have a say in how rates are set and spent?

You can have a say in how rates are set and spent, so find out how hearing from you helps decision-making.

How are rates calculated, such as for public transport, biosecurity, and river rating districts?

Ratepayers pay general rates (for activities that benefit the region) and targeted rates for localised benefits or single areas of work. Within this, some activities are rated based on slightly different criteria eg within pest management, some rates also take into account land areas of rateable property. All the information is detailed in our Revenue & Financing Policy.

Another notable exception is for river rating districts, which can be rated either by capital value, land value, land area or by the portion of river frontage property has in relation to others. This is referred to as the extent of provision of service to the rating unit (property).

Why am I contributing to pest management work when I don't have pests on my property?

The pest management rate contributes to controlling pests where they already exist, and to prevent the spread of pests to areas where they aren’t already.

Why am I charged a public transport rate if I live on a rural property and don't have access to buses?

All Cantabrians benefit in the wider sense when public transport services run well (less congestion, ease of people and freight on the roads etc). However, it is recognised that those who cannot immediately access services should pay fewer rates, and this is generally the case.

Why am I paying for a subsidy scheme for someone else's wood burner?

As part of Environment Canterbury’s air quality work, subsidies are available to people who can‘t afford to ‘do the right thing’ with the type of burner they are using but who want to take that step. Rates revenue contributes to the air quality work across the region, with subsidies being a small part of that available in a number of localised areas to help clear the air for the residents in those areas affected by air pollution.

How do I identify which rates class I am in and how is each class defined?

Rating classes are given a letter and sometimes a number within the rate line – such as A, B etc or U1, U2. When it comes to the degree of risk property is subject to A is the highest rate, the most in need of protection and usually the closest to the river or drain, then rated down to F. These are referred to as classes and will change as the height of the land increases.

How can I understand rates increases better?

Please refer to the summaries contained within the Environment Canterbury Annual Plan or Long-Term Plan. How rates are applied is outlined in our Revenue and Financing Policy which is consulted on with the community every few years.

Rates increases are noted as a percentage of the total revenue from all rates across the region. Because of the differences that individual properties pay due to the mix of general (everyone) and targeted (location or activity-specific), it is not possible to say what % every property will pay until the rates are run through the local authority that collects the rates for Environment Canterbury. However, sample properties are listed to give people an idea of what the % will be.

Why are my neighbour's rates different to mine?

Rates are based on the capital value of a property. This means that if your neighbour has a property of the same value as yours, in all likelihood they will pay the same rates as you. If your properties have different capital values, or one of you is on the edge of a rating scheme, you would pay different rates.

Where can I find my rates bill?

More information about your Regional Council rates bill will be included in the rates invoice/notice you receive from the local authority eg Christchurch City Council or Timaru District Council, where you live. These councils collect the rates for Environment Canterbury to reduce the costs associated with two agencies administering rates at the same time. You can also refer to the Revenue and Financing Policy or contact Environment Canterbury direct.

To find out what you are paying for with your Environment Canterbury rates, you can view the Annual Plan, Long-Term Plan or visit the rates tool on our website.

How can I understand the questions on my rates bill?

Any acronyms used are referenced in full in the Revenue and Financing Policy that outlines what rates are collected and what they are for. Acronyms are used on the rates bill simply for space reasons. Environment Canterbury’s team are very happy to answer any questions about the information on the bill, as properties in different locations have different rates (with different acronyms used).

Some of the more common ones are:

Lettering to reference the way the rate is calculated:
L: refers to rateable land value
H: refers to rateable land area

Or local areas like:
WEC: Waimakariri-Eyre-Cust.
WFPP: Waimakariri Flood Protection Programme

A specified class eg WEC Class, notes the degree of risk the property is subject to.