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Need advice: CC Claim from LA for work done to former tenancy(3 Posts)
Please bear with me. This may be long and is complicated. I realise that I ought to have dealt with this much sooner to avoid it having gone to court in the first place. Unfortunately due to many overwhelming personal matters over the years I left it on a backburner until now.
Back in 2010 I had to leave my council tenancy to move to another very quickly due to DV from ExH. I had cleared everything from the house (of that I am sure). The only problem was that some of the light fittings had been changed.
Several months later I received an invoice from the council, alleging that I owed £639.99 for work done to this former tenancy. Of this, £65.76 was for changing the light fittings. The remainder was for replacing a lock, softboard, and two rubbish removals: small clear to vacant property (£82.65) and large clear to (? - unspecified) costing £321.43, plus an administration charge (10% of total).
Accompanying this invoice were photographs (evidence?) but these were all of a different property, there were boards in the photos specifying the address, which was the same house number, but on a different road.
I had a phone call from the finance department shortly after asking when I would be paying the amount. I explained that I disagreed with the amount, that I agreed to the costs for the light fittings but not to the rubbish and other charges, and that the evidence was for a different address. I was advised to begin making payments (I offered £5 a week as it was all I could afford at the time) and that the department would investigate for me.
I paid this for about a year, then after checking my finances I realised I had not heard back from the council. So I called again and was advised that they had nothing on record, not even the original invoice or the evidence of what I was supposed to be paying for. Unfortunately at that time I could not find the original invoice, I had thought it could have been thrown out with other old documents. The woman I spoke to told me to keep paying, but I knew I had probably already paid more than (or close to) the amount I admitted I owed. So I said I wouldn't continue to pay until the problem had been properly sorted out. She said the department would send me the details, but again I heard nothing back, and eventually forgot about it again (my bad, I know I should have dealt with this). Luckily, I did manage to find the original invoice.
Fast forward to last week. I received a notice of claim from the county court. The council are requesting £280.99, plus interest, legal and court fees (totalling £516.97).
There is no breakdown of this amount claimed, nor any reference to any payments I have previously made.
If we deduct the amount being claimed (£280.99) from the original invoice (£581.81) it would seem the bill has been reduced by £359, though I really don't believe I have paid THAT much!
I'm struggling to figure out where this particular amount has come from.
I am panicking about this now. The last thing I want is a CCJ against me, but can I pay the whole amount in full. Nor do I think I should have to pay it. There has clearly been some mistake - the pictures are definitely NOT of my former tenancy, nor have the council clarified what exactly I am being charged for.
I only have evidence of some of the payments I have made (perhaps half of them). I may be able to get the bank to check, but would have to go in branch and suspect they may charge me for each copy of statements (which would be a lot, going back to 2010!). The evidence of payments I do have is almost the same as the amount I admit to being liable for, for the light fittings (just under £10 short).
A part of me is wondering whether my ExH may have done something to the house after I left (he didn't know until after, it was a very scary time for us).
I feel that I should dispute this claim, admit to the amount for the light fittings (which I do owe) but not to the rest. But can I do this with what I have (the original invoice, evidence of payments already made)?
What will happen if the court disagrees because I left it for so long without pursuing my dispute?
Any advice would be very much appreciated. I just want to sort all of this out ASAP so I can stop worrying about it.
Contact your Local Councillor today. If you don't know who it is Google your post code+local Councillor.
Send an email to them and follow up with a phone call. Tell them what you have written here and ask them to request, in writing, a stay on your case until the issues raised have been looked into.Ask them to cc you into their email to the Council.
Also today email the Chief Executive of your local Council with the same details. State that you are making a formal complaint about the way in which your case has been handled.
a) your case will be looked at urgently
b) they will be meticulous is investigating possible errors such as wrong address
PM me if you need more help
Please put in a defence straightaway too otherwise the council will get a default judgement on the basis you did not defend the case.
State what you believe you owed and what you paid.
State that the other costs related to an entirely different property and that the evidence they provided at the time showed this and that you queried it then.
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