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What do you know about bailiffs coming to the door?

(43 Posts)
Lighthousekeeping Sat 27-Apr-13 11:52:26

My friend was out last week and that's exactly what happened. She lives in a shared house and the person she was paying rent to got behind with the council tax from a couple of years ago. The council office say they owe £600 and the baliff has bumped it up to 1200. My friend can't sleep. She's on her own in the house and having to pay the rent on her own. If she managed to find £600 could she at it straight to the council and that would be it?

gordyslovesheep Sat 27-Apr-13 11:58:37

I don't understand ? Council tax is by name isn't it not address? so why would your friend be responsible for someone elses unpaid bill?

gordyslovesheep Sat 27-Apr-13 11:59:44

and how is she on her own if it's a shared house <confused>

Tallyra Sat 27-Apr-13 12:02:21

I had one turn up at my flat once for someone I had never heard of. I told them thus, and they very graciously went away and never bothered me again. It is to do with the person that ran up the bill, not you. if in doubt, call the CAB or even the council themselves.

SavoyCabbage Sat 27-Apr-13 12:05:28

She shouldn't pay it! It's not her debt. She should tell the bailiffs everything she can about the debtor.

LIZS Sat 27-Apr-13 12:10:15

Does she share with the person who owes the money, was she living there when debt accumulated ? They can't take action against her, only the person named on the bill.

HoHoHoNoYouDont Sat 27-Apr-13 12:12:11

Tell her not to worry, they can only act against the person who received the bill.

wonderingsoul Sat 27-Apr-13 12:14:42

as other ops have said as long as her name is not listed on the bill they cant touch her. does th eperson live in the house shes renting?

if so i think it may be wise to start looking else where.

Lighthousekeeping Sat 27-Apr-13 12:15:07

Liz you are right. Her name is on the bill along with the person she shared with who has moved. She's on her own as she's looking for someone to replace the old flat mate.

HerrenaHarridan Sat 27-Apr-13 12:15:15

Tell her not to let them in. Explain and prove if necessary that she is not the person they are looking for and that she doesn't know where she's disappeared off to.

Speak to cab smile

EllieArroway Sat 27-Apr-13 12:17:19

Tell her to contact the council ASAP. If there's doubt over who owes the money, they can recall the case from the bailiffs.

If the person named on the bailiffs paperwork is not your friend, then she can show some ID to the bailiff and they will bugger off.

In the meantime, they CANNOT break into her house unless she's already let them in previously & agreed a walking possession order. (Theoretically, they can do this if the order has been signed, but in practice this is rare).

Tell her not to let the bailiffs in AT ALL and don't pay them a thing. If they can't collect from her, it will be referred back to the council any way. If she's worried about going to prison for not paying - this ONLY happens to refusers (people who could pay but won't), never people who can't (genuinely can't), and your friend would be one of those.

Lighthousekeeping Sat 27-Apr-13 12:17:41

Can she pay the money direct to the council or is it too late?

ProfYaffle Sat 27-Apr-13 12:17:49

Have a look here and tell her to get an appointment with the CAB who can advise in detail.

HoHoHoNoYouDont Sat 27-Apr-13 12:18:20

So her name is on the bill? She needs to contact the council ASAP in that case and work out a payment plan. Councils don't piss about with this stuff.

HoHoHoNoYouDont Sat 27-Apr-13 12:19:31

It shouldn't be too late to contact the council, they will probably add an admin fee and call off the bailiffs.

Right: bailiffs are nearly always private companies rather than civil servants, which means they are often dishonest, particularly about how much extra they try to charge on top of the debt. There is a maximum they are legally allowed to charge, but many of them ignore this. There's been a fair bit in the press about the dodgy tactics they often use, and your friend should know her rights and stand up to the bastards.

First thing to do is get on to the council and find out exactly how much is owed, and try to make an arrangement to pay in installments.

Also, this site is brilliant.

MidniteScribbler Sat 27-Apr-13 12:56:29

I'm a bit confused. Is your friend renting the property from the owner, or is she subletting from another tenant? If the property owner owes the tax, then she should be able to show her lease to prove she doesn't own the property. If she's a co-tenant then she may in fact be liable for the debt, and she may need to pay it, then take the person who owes the money to civil claims to reclaim the money due.

Itchywoolyjumper Sat 27-Apr-13 13:00:16

Bailiff are like vampires, they can't come in unless you invite them. There's a lot of good advice on this thread and CAB are great in these circumstances.

MNBlackpoolandFylde Sat 27-Apr-13 13:25:39

I had issues with baliffs thanks to exh although it did not get to the stage they came, they sent me a letter on the 30th April detailing they had been passed a debt in joint names, (I knew nothing about as I had fled). They then sent me a letter dated BEFORE the initial letter two days later saying they had given me chance to pay and I had not and therefore they had added x amount (was hundreds ) to bill and if I still did not pay they would take me to court.

I complained twice about their behaviour to council and sought advice. I agreed to pay X amount a month, council/baliff said fine.

I informed the council I would be paying them direct and each time sent reciept of payment to baliffs. Council said you cant, I was told by legal advice I could so I carried on, they did not like it but they could not take me to court as I was paying agreed amount.

TheChaoGoesMu Sat 27-Apr-13 14:34:44

Was your friend living there on the dates that the bill is referring to? Do you mean her name is on the bill now as she's living there now, but it wasn't then?

Lighthousekeeping Sat 27-Apr-13 15:21:29

It was on the bill with her old flat mate who has moved on

gordyslovesheep Sat 27-Apr-13 15:25:48

I am a bit confused

is your friend renting in her name? Is she sub letting?

Why has your friend not paid council tax - if she has why does she have to pay someone elses?

If CT is included in rent who was paying it?

what did/does the tenancy agreement say?

I would adviser her to go to the CAB

Footface Sat 27-Apr-13 15:27:38

Didn't she get taken to court first before the ballifts come round?

Can I ask ( no jugdement) has she been ignoring letter?

My advice is do not open the door. If she does he will shove his foot straight in so she can't close the door

LaGuardia Sat 27-Apr-13 16:28:17

I read somewhere that Council Tax and CSA are the only organisations who can have debts deducted straight from your wages so you need to get this sorted pronto. You definitely will have to pay if your name is on the bill - but better on your terms than theirs.

Bunraku Sat 27-Apr-13 17:30:51

Ugh I've had dealings with those particular bailiffs. Don't let them in. No matter what Not even for " oh it's raining mind if I just pop in" or " I won't take anything and I can help you if I can Just use your table to fill this in" "can I use the loo" ect. Leave them outside. Allowing them peaceful entry once means they can break in next time. Email or call your local council, explain the situation and offer installmenta directly with them. As long as she hasn't got a car at the property for them to levy on just blank the bailiffs and after a few unsuccessful tries they will return it to the council anyway.

The bailiffs will try anything. " I can accept instalments if I can come in and or you sign this sheet" (walking possession order) so they can break in next time. Deal directly with the council if possible.

LimitedEditionLady Sat 27-Apr-13 17:41:04

Ibelieve that once the baliffs are involved thats the amount that is owed then.the baliffs cost miney so it must have already gone pretty far.if her name is on the bill then why doesnt she already know about it?surely theyd have contacted her too?if shes not named they cant take her stuff.they cant enter unless invuted in or with a warrant because breaking an entry is against the law to everyone.

Sallyingforth Sat 27-Apr-13 18:05:37

Sorry OP but you are not really explaining this very well. Before anyone can advise you on the bailiffs you really need to give us much more detail about the history of this debt.

LEL: THe bailiffs can charge for attending, but it's only a small amount. I have defeated a couple of bailiff firms who tried to charge me stupid amounts, by telling them firmly that I was aware of the law and if they didn't fuck off I would put in an official complaint about them. They were demanding a levy fee, which they were not entitled to charge as they had never been allowed in the house so had not placed a levy on any goods. 'Removal fees' and 'attendance with van' are also illegal charges which no one has to pay.
Basically bailiffs are dishonest scum and should be stood up to. By all means pay the debt to the creditor, but there is no need to let bent bailiffs profit off your financial difficulties.

TiredFeet Sat 27-Apr-13 19:57:49

I would advise her to speak to the council. They will be able to explain what her options are/ how to sort this

BenjaminButton172 Sat 27-Apr-13 22:54:03

OP i think ur friend needs to contact the council first to see about setting up a payment plan. As at the end of the day her name was on the bill so she owes the money.

Your friend could sue her ex flatmate for the money later.

cwtchontoast Sun 28-Apr-13 15:54:43

My darling parents used to jilt the bills fairly often, resulting in bailiffs at the door. I used to tell them (without letting them in of course) that we lived in a fully furnished flat and did not own any of the contents. I'm not sure if they would investigate this further but it always seemed to work for me. X

expatinscotland Sun 28-Apr-13 15:59:52

I'm so glad we don't have to deal with these scumbags in Scotland.

Lighthousekeeping Mon 29-Apr-13 12:51:39

Hi. Sorry if I wasn't clear. It is my friends debt because its an old council bill which got behind. Stupidly her previous flatmate dealt with the bills and my friend had her head in the clouds.

She called the council this morning who said that any payment plans are now out the window and they won't except any kind of payment. She rang the baliff up was very nice and said she has two months to pay the now £1,100. Totally her cock up and a harsh lesson learned. That's her holiday this year.

BookFairy Mon 29-Apr-13 13:07:19

An expensive lesson to learn. I had bailiffs show up in my previous flat as the LL had not paid their council tax. The bailiffs were v nice about it - much nicer than the LL!

ProfYaffle Mon 29-Apr-13 16:23:48

I'd still say go to the CAB. I'm not a Money Advisor but I deal with basic prep of debt cases and know that MA frequently set up payment plans for CT arrears. Sometimes creditors take more notice of CAB payment plans than when individuals approach directly, it's worth a try if she's struggling with the amount.

From what I understand from your posts, she shared a property with someone, was paying them rent and the rent wasn't paid to the council? She needs to let the council know that it is under dipute. I would advise that she contacts the CAB too, they were pretty good to me in similar circumstances

Sorry, didn't see your last post. Glad she's getting it sorted. The bailliffs will generally accept a payment plan, but she'll have to submit a budget to prove how much disposable income she does/doesn't have

kilmuir Mon 29-Apr-13 17:50:34

haha, think its funny that someone said because the bailiffs are a private company they are more likely to be dishonest, because civil servants would never be on the fiddle............................. yeh right

Bogeyface Mon 29-Apr-13 17:54:42

I dont get why the bailiff was such a surprise. They dont just turn up out of the blue, you get letter after letter before it gets to that stage and a court summons too. If the bill was in her name then she will have been sent all these, and could have dealt with it much sooner.

Go to the CAB. They will contact any debtors on her behalf. They've helped me out in the past and have been fantastic. Also, they will advise her that the vast majority of charges that bailiffs add are completely illegal and you don't have to pay them.

MaxPepsi Mon 29-Apr-13 17:59:09

Is it a court appointed bailiff?

If so, the courts will let her pay instalments.

If not, she can tell the council she can only do instalments and they have to accept it. If not, they will need to take legal action and explain to the judge why they have not accepted an instalment plan. He/She will not be amused! It is still not a crime to be in debt. She will need to provide an i&e

If it's a joint debt, she needs to pass on the ex flat mates details but be aware that she is fully liable for the whole debt if ex flatmate doesn't pay at all.

So the bailiffs are trying to charge her £500 on their own account? They can't do that. They have no legal right to charge her this month and she doesn't have to pay it.
Also (this worked for me) if she has internet access, she should log on and make payment direct to the council online. They can't refuse or send the payment back. A lot of council staff are not fully aware of the law re debt and council tax (the ones who answer the phones are usually low paid, low status, got a script to say and no authority to divert from it) and private bailiff companies rely on people's ignorance of the law on debt to extort money from them under false pretences.

Lighthousekeeping Mon 29-Apr-13 22:00:33

I'll give her that online tip. Thanks.

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