Far North District Council is embarking on a major overhaul of its rating system, with a proposal to change to capital value rating.
There is hope a new rating system might insulate homeowners from the shock of big rises in land values.
The council says the present system, where rates are based on land values, has caused huge swings as new valuations take effect.
Recent revaluations have triggered big rate increases for many homeowners in the west and north of the district, which are traditionally the poorer parts of the Far North.
The council says a capital value rating system, based on the value of buildings, would make property owners less vulnerable to sudden rises in land values.
There's hope in the Far North that a new rating system might insulate homeowners from the shock of big rises in land values.
Far North District Council is looking at a proposal to change to capital value rating, where rates are based on the value of buildings rather than land.
The chair of the Russell Ratepayers Association, Lois Elliot, says her community was hit hard several years ago when the coastal building boom forced up land values and rates.
She says many of the houses belong to people who have been living in them for the past 20 or 30 years.
"They're just very ordinary houses and they're really being rated off their land becuase of the land value.
"I know of people who've sold their houses because they can't afford to live here and pay the rates any more."
Ms Elliot says land value rating is especially hard on retired people with fixed incomes.