Unpaid council tax £9 fees £500!!

by Readers Question

14:11 PM, 3rd March 2015
About 4 years ago

Unpaid council tax £9 fees £500!!

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Unpaid council tax £9 fees £500!!

In December 2014 I received a large council tax bill for one of my rented properties. The bill was vague and it took phone calls to establish that my tenants never registered for Council Tax, after forwarding on the relevant tenancy agreements thought that was the end of it.

I have now received another two bills, one an amended council tax charge for the two empty days prior to my tenants moving in plus hefty fees, another from a collection agency working on behalf of the council with even heftier fees.

I’ve tried speaking to the council but they won’t budge, what I owe for the two empty days is under £9, with fees nearly £500, I’m told my goods can now be seized if I don’t pay. None of the letters ever received have been specific of what the council are chasing, I only know what I know by calling.

What are my rights here?

Stephenfees



Comments

Neil Patterson

14:13 PM, 3rd March 2015
About 4 years ago

Hi Stephen,

I have no experience of this to impart, but have you instigated any kind of complaints procedure as that is where I would start if there is one.

Adam Hosker

14:19 PM, 3rd March 2015
About 4 years ago

I believe they will still require a Court Order to remove goods.

Until then; write an email to them with subject and body "STAGE 1 COMPLAINT" and outline your complaint. It would also be a good idea to CC this to your local councillor.

Their is a certain onus; for them to explain and outline in the complaint. So you may start to understand there "reasoning" if they have any.

Ross McColl

10:42 AM, 4th March 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Adam Hosker" at "03/03/2015 - 14:19":

I have had this before.
I paid the council the money they were owed as per the bill, ignore all the fees. The council will tell you they can't take the payment and you have to deal with the bailiffs. Tell them you are not prepared to do this and that they have treated you unfairly. Then clearly say, "I will pay the council or no one". If they still refuse tell them you are recording the call and ask them if they are refusing to take payment for the monies owed. Make the payment. Debt cleared.
Completely ignored the bailiffs until they went away.
They don't enforce anything because the bill has been paid. The non-payment of council tax is criminal, not civil, so they eventually get bored and leave you alone.
Just make sure you don't have any cars on your drive in your name and don't open the door to them.
Failing that, if you decide to take a more formal route, make a complaint then tell them you are informing your MP and the press.
Good luck.

JohnCaversham

13:02 PM, 4th March 2015
About 4 years ago

In my borough unfurnished properties are entitled to a 1 month CT discount, have you advised them that the property was unfurnished when empty? Have you checked with your borough? If not tell them its empty and unfurnished, water turned off etc etc.
Also, advise them that you wish to enter into an official dispute, by law they have to suspend all legal action until the dispute is resolved.. Sounds like the typical heavy handed council tactics against the accountable little guy...

David Aneurin

14:18 PM, 4th March 2015
About 4 years ago

Firstly you have learned the lesson about the landlord registering the tenant with the utility providers. Never leave it to the tenants.
Secondly with regard to the fees it does seem wrong and I would suggest that you should visit the Citizens Advice Bureau who will be able to help but also have links to the council so they get a better hearing. Ignoring the bailiffs is dangerous as it could lead to higher charges and worse.

Si G

23:29 PM, 4th March 2015
About 4 years ago

The landlord/owner/agent needs to inform the council every time there is a change of tenant otherwise the owner is liable for the council tax. I know someone who received a bill for ten years ct plus costs as they had never told the council they rented the flat and the council regarded it as a second home, their investment property was reposesed and sold. I have found councils arrogant and hard work to deal with in the past.

David Asker

17:20 PM, 5th March 2015
About 4 years ago

Whilst we do not undertake this kind of enforcement I do know a fair bit about it.

Firstly, ignoring the bailiffs is not the way to go. If you're a man of means it will only end up biting you when you come out and find your car clamped or similar.

Also paying the Council direct will not stop the bailiff as Ross suggested. Since new regulations came in last April Council's have been a bit confused about direct payments but that has all been cleared up with recent guidance.

What you need to do is demand that the original sum is returned to the Council.

John Bolland

12:11 PM, 6th March 2015
About 4 years ago

The fees and action by the council/bailiffs/debt collectors is so outrageously out of proportion that I would do as follows.

1. Everything in writing with proof of postage or email
2. Write to council CEO and your councillor with the facts demanding a reasonable stance from the council.
3. Have the Bailiffs/debt collectors got a court order for the debt - doubtful. If they say yes demand to see it. If you are unaware due process may not have been followed. A crime I believe. Tell them this.
4. Pay the sum to the council cc bailiffs/debt collectors.
5. Tell the bailiffs and council you will be reporting them for harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act. Inform them harassment is a criminal offence for which they can go to PRISON for upto 5 years.
5. CC All this to your MP ask for help for this bully boy attitude by public servants6. Mug up Bailiffs/debt collection rules using Google/ or PIMS. or similar.

A TV program that may be available on back view recently covered this topic. Beat the Bailiffs I think it was called.

David Asker

12:39 PM, 6th March 2015
About 4 years ago

Unfortunately John a lot of what you say and advise is incorrect. Sounds like you have been reading a few of the bailiff forums that spout a lot misinformation.

In answer to your points:

1 and 2 I have no issue with.
3 - They do not need a 'court order'. A liability order would have been granted and essentially rubber stamped by the local Magistrates Court. No crime.
4 - You can do this but the Council will forward sums to the bailiff.
5 - A bailiff enforcing an order cannot be considered harassment. Again, no crime.

As for the fees, these are set to £75 for the letter, then £235 for the first visit to attempt to seize goods and a further £110 for a further visit to remove goods.

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