What do I need to know?
- the name of the local government/council authority (for the year of interest)
- a year
- the property address.
How do I search?
- Type in the name of the council, municipal district or ward and locate it in the drop down list.
- Try an estimated year of interest OR a year range, not both at the same time as years were cataloged differently for different councils.
- You may need to repeat this process with different years, as rate books were often cataloged as a range, not as single years i.e. 1951-1957
Digital records for some areas are available at ancestry.com see our Tips section
About these records
Rates are taxes collected by local governments based on a percentage of the value of a property. Rates are one of the oldest forms of taxation used in Australia. Their annual collection means that for many councils there is a yearly record of each property and its owner.
Rate records were catalogued as rate books, valuation books, rate records, rate cards or registers of rateable properties.
Regional archive centres at Ballarat*, Beechworth, Bendigo and Geelong each also have collections of rate records.
Finding a property in rate records may take some time.
- Earlier rate series are organised according to 'wards' and the route that the rate assessor walked.
- Some rate series have street indexes at the start of volumes.
- Once you have located your street and property in a rate record for one year, often it will appear in the same position in the book for subsequent years.
Who created these records?
Each local council created records. In the early 1990s there were over 200 local government areas. These were consolidated to the just under 80 councils we have today.
See our short guide to researching your house using our records that covers these and other records.
What are in these records?
Rate records generally list the following property details:
- name of the owner, and/or
- name/s of current tenant/s
- tenants' occupation
- valuation or assessment cost of property
- rate amount payable
- date range
They may also contain a brief description of the property (construction material, number of rooms).
They are an excellent resource for determining the date of construction of a property, significant changes to a property and changes in ownership close ownership Definition The state of holding a legal right to property that is the most extensive and absolute property interest in law. Most commonly refers to legal title executed through a legally binding agreement. and sometimes occupancy.
Tips! Council areas change. Look under the former name for that council if you’re looking for older rate records.
- These inner city rate records are available online at Ancestry.com.au Melbourne, Hotham/North Melbourne, Flemington/Kensington, Box Hill , South Melbourne, Hawthorn, Richmond and Camberwell
- House numbers don't always appear in many rate records from earlier periods and street names can also change overtime