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Council Tax Debt and Baliffs - Please Help

(9 Posts)

I have already been to the citizens advice bureau with this matter and was rather unhelpful. I have to book another appointment for 3 weeks time with a debt advisor but I dont seem to have time here.

I incurred a council tax debt. How exactly, I'm not sure. I thought it was coming out via direct debit and it was overlooked. Anyway, I owed �201 for the year. I never received any correspondance from the council but the debt was passed to a debt recovery agent and the first I was aware of it was a few months ago when I receive a baliffs notice of attendance.

I telephoned the baliff in question who agreed I could pay back the debt at �20 per fortnight. I am on Income Support so paying this amount has meant I'm struggling somewhat, but I want it cleared quickly. The baliff in question was to telephone me back the following week and didn't, despite me leaving 2 answerphone messages for him to do so. I emailed the company dealing with it saying I wanted to set up this payment. Before they responded, I'd had another baliff attend my property - a different one than the first time.

In the meantime, I found that the company had an automated payment telephone line and so started making the payments as agreed. After 2 days of me making the first payment, I'd had yet another notice of baliff attendance. I emailed the company again saying I'd made the first payment as I agreed and so I didn't expect to have any more baliffs visiting my property. They responded back acknowledging that payment.

That was about 2 months ago and since then I have cleared �120 of the debt and owe approx �90 in my estimation. I went away to a friends house a couple of weeks ago to help her with some issues. I made payment as agreed during the time I was away so haven't missed any. I returned home today to find 2 more baliffs attendance notices which now say I owe �400 and threatening to seize my goods with or without my presence. I telephoned the main office who wouldn't speak to me about it (said its with a baliff so only that baliff can deal with my account) but said they had not agreed to set up any payment arrangement on my account and so the debt has been referred back to baliffs and I've now incurred extra charges for them visiting my home. They've also stopped me making any further payments via the automated telephone line as I have been doing for the past 2-3 months.

I am sick with worry. I don't have �400 to just pay them off. I was struggling with the �20 but been holding on to the fact that in just a few weeks it'd be paid off so I wouldn't have to worry about it. It'll take me a further 5 months to pay off another �400 which means I'll be incurring debt elsewhere. I'm also worried about them coming into my home when I'm not here or even when I am here - I have a 4 year old and I'm sure not a pleasant thing to deal with.

What do I do - please help sad

realitygone Tue 17-Jun-14 07:32:02

Where has the money gone that you have been paying?

Is this rossendales by any chance? We had some problems with council tax debt and they are bastards.

Two things I would suggest -

A) contact the debt collection agency again, ask for the name of a senior member of the complaints team, if they say they don't have one ask for their complaints procedure usually you log a telephone complaint then it goes to written in your case I would go straight to written.

Write a letter, detailing the name of the first bailiffs who agreed the £20 a fortnight repayment plan put on there you have been making payments I would print off a copy of your bank statement and highlight the payments made to them.

As you are making payments as per the agreement they cannot add further charges, tell them you will be seeking legal advise for the harassment you are suffering as a result of their incompetence

send it recorded delivery, make sure you have a copy and keep the receipt to prove it was received.

B) contact the recovery department at the council tax office, explain to them that you agreed a repayment plan with plan with the bailiffs and have been paying but they continue to pursue you and you are concerned about the money going missing. If they tell you it is out of their hands they are incorrect, ask to speak then with the manager of the team as when we had huge problems with them they were able to call the debt backand we are paying the council not the debt ccollectors.

Everything you say and do needs to be backed up in writing, council tax chasers are absolutely ruthless andnone of them actually talk to each other. Whenever you talk to someone get their name and write it down

Thank you so much for your reply. It really helped me this morning. And yes, it is Rossendales!! I've had this sick, nervous feeling about it all day. After speaking directly to the baliff this morning who refused to budge whatsoever (they want the full amount immediately or coming to seize goods) I decided to go to the sit and wait service at the citizens advice bureau again. The person I saw this time was lovely, but after a very lengthy telephone conversation between him and Rossendales, there was no agreement made. Rossendales just refuse to budge at all.

I did find out though that the actual council tax debt was only �50 something - so the �201 included 150 ish of their own charges. Since I've paid them �120 so far, I've more than paid the original debt. However, the man at the CAB said they might have not actually allocated any of my payments so far to the council and I'm simply paying their charges. As a result he said not to pay them any more money and to telephone the council to see how much of the original debt remains, pay that and leave Rossendales to pursue their own charges (similar to what you suggested). I'm not entirely sure how that will solve the problem though - surely they'll still keep harrassing for their charges?

He said they're not allowed to force entry into my home so providing I don't let them in then they can't come in. However, they could take my car!

So, tomorrow I'll get on to the council and see exactly how much I owe them. I also have to go back to the CAB in the morning as there is someone else they want to call to seek advice and try to solve the problem for me.

I will also be putting in a written complaint as you suggested - thank you for such useful advice!

We shall see what happens. I feel slightly less worried than I did last night but I really want them off my back.

realitygone Tue 17-Jun-14 22:00:18

I am pretty certain, that if your original amount was for 150 and you paid 120 over that amount they cannot add further charges.

Get on to the recovery department as they were a huge help for us when the bailiffs were being arseholes.

do you remember the name of the first person who came to the door?

TheWickerWoman Fri 27-Jun-14 15:52:07

They can't do that, they are trying it on. Contact the council and tell them you are no longer prepared to deal with bailiff because they are adding illegal charges. The council can and will take it back, just make sure you pay the council direct on line. They can't refuse the payment.

Go on to the Consumer Action Group (cag) and then into the consumer forums, they are fab there. Go into the debt forums and look for bailiffs and start a thread. I learned loads there and I can tell you now the bailiffs cannot do this.

ContentedSidewinder Fri 27-Jun-14 23:29:06

I used to work in Council Tax and I will say that if your account had got to bailiff stage we wouldn't take it back from them.

There are set procedures laid out about what letters the council have to send in order for it to get to bailiff stage. If you don't respond to those letters from the council or make any payments to them they get a liability order from the court saying that you are liable for the council tax and the court grant the council the ability to take further action against you.

This can be an attachment of earnings where money is taken directly from your salary at a set percentage set by central government or a visit to your property from the council, and then finally bailiff.

I know that sounds harsh but the reason people pay the bailiffs is because they are bailiffs. At the end of the day it is a tax, collected locally but a government tax nonetheless. It can't be written off, even people on the lowest incomes/benefits have to make payments towards their debt.

I would contact Rossendales and get a breakdown of the charges and what you have paid to see why there is still an amount outstanding.

I would contact the council to see where the original bill has come from and ask for a copy of that bill with the dates and charges. It should be as easy as clicking a button for them to print you off that bill.

Once you have all that information you can see where to go from there.

TheWickerWoman Sat 28-Jun-14 00:36:36

If the tenant refuses to pay the bailiff, the council have to take it back. I've been here before.

If the the tenant pays on the council website then the debt is being paid off and can't be refused.

Perhaps the council shouldn't deal with cowboys who operate illegally. They should also explain their 'charges'

Rossendales are one of the worst!

TheWickerWoman Sat 28-Jun-14 00:37:29

Also, OP if you're on any benefits, check your vulnerable status against bailiffs.. It makes interesting reading.

ContentedSidewinder Sun 29-Jun-14 10:43:01

Any money paid to the council is transferred to the bailiffs.

But it would depend on the council on how your account number is dealt with when you owe an amount from a previous year. If you retain the account number then it would allocate any payment to the current year. If the account number changes when a debt is left owing then you would be making a payment against the debt.

I did say in my initial post that council tax is a tax and the government don't like it when you don't pay their tax.

The power that the council have to deduct money straight from your employer or bailiff your property means you should prioritise it over other debts.

Yes, councils can take a debt back but honestly why would they? They have tried to collect the monies owed but if you don't pay or contact them then it is outsourced.

You make out that council workers are monsters. We had a policy in our office which was to identify those that wouldn't pay (5 bed house, jag on the drive) and those that couldn't pay (unforeseen circumstances reducing their money ie losing job and being on benefits etc)

In the OPs case she is a couldn't pay. If she had just contacted the council then she could have agreed a payment arrangement to pay the debt back.

The reason that companies use Rossendales is exactly because they have a reputation. It means you will scare yourself shitless and pay the bloody bill.

I have worked in the private sector where we could write debt off, but local government cannot just write off debts.

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