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bailiffs and council tax.advice needed urgently please!!

(14 Posts)
squatchette Sun 19-Jul-09 15:41:44

After much research on this I am still non the wiser and wondered if any body can help.
I am expecting a visit from bailiffs on Tuesday for not paying my council tax.I am a full time carer for one of my 3 dds who is disabled and normaly exempt from paying it.However due to them loosing my forms then me not getting them in on time when I was ill during my last pregnancy I am liable for £600.
I started paying it at x amount per week using a barcoded letter at the post office.I then found out I could pay it by debit card over the phone gave them my details and asked if it could be paid that way in future.
They agreed but when I got my bank statement a month later nothing had been taken .I also got a letter saying I had defaulted and to contact them asap.
This is where it all got hard work I was phoning a premium rate line several times a day only to be put on hold once for over an hour.After several days I decided to email them outlining my problems contacting them and willingness to pay.I got no reply.
Then earlier this week as I was hanging out washing with the baby in one arm a bailiff called.He did not enter my house luckily .He said there was nothing I could do but call the debt collection people and try and figure it out with them.The number he gave me was answered after 2 rings.They could see I had been phoning them but as they tried to call back twice and got no answer they were unwilling to negotiate.
I am now scared to death as they are going to be coming back on Tuesday and I have thought of everything to get the money together but just can't that quickly.
I can't even get an appointment with CAB until after Tuesday.
I've looked on various websites and it seems they can't force entry unless it's for non payment of a fine given by a magistrates court.I need to know if this includes council tax? Also can they take our car as it is being paid for with mobility alowance as part of my dds DLA?
I am worried sick over this and can't see a way out so any advice would really help thanks.

TheArmadillo Sun 19-Jul-09 15:46:52

contact your local councillor for advice about how to put in a complaint about them losing your forms and having to phone premium rate number. It may benefit you to do so and they may agree to drop some of the charge etc. Even though it has been sold to the baliffs.

Secondly have you actually been taken to court over it - because I think they have to do that before they pass the debt on.

I'm not sure how the mobility scheme works - but if it is set up so legally you are sort of renting the car from them then it is their property not yours and the baliffs can't take it. Or if it's you paying it off as a loan then the company will still own part of it and they won't be able to take it - contact the mobility scheme to check.

katiestar Sun 19-Jul-09 15:51:05

I don't think bailiffs are allowed to enter the house if you don't let them in.So keep all doors and windows locked

stubbyfingers Sun 19-Jul-09 15:54:20

Have you had a look on the Citizens Advice Bureau website?

here is their advice about bailiffs

TheArmadillo Sun 19-Jul-09 15:54:22

are you exempt or do you get housing benefit? If the former how long was it that they are charging you for? If something like 3-6 months can you push for them to backdate it? Expecially if you were claiming the exemption beforehand - it might be worth pursuing that with your councillor as well - especially if you have doctors notes or similar to prove you were too ill to sort it out at the time.

squatchette Sun 19-Jul-09 15:54:54

I haven't actually been to court over it no I just agreed to pay it when the collection company phoned.I don't own the car but will when it's paid for in 2 years iyswim.I'm not on the renting it option of motability.
Thanks for replying .

TheArmadillo Sun 19-Jul-09 15:56:09

if you don't own the car then they can't take it. Make sure you have the documents to hand to prove this.

katiestar Sun 19-Jul-09 16:44:01

they have to have a court order to send in bailiffs. Its an empty threat to scare you into paying.

Waspie Sun 19-Jul-09 16:52:22

Hi Squatchette

You are racking up bailiff's charges by not dealing with this. Even if you get your exemption as a full time carer backdated and the council tax bill goes away the bailiffs will still want their costs.

I don't advise that you answer the door and make sure all windows are fully closed. If a window is open they can call the police and the police can supervise them accessing your home.

You need to urgently talk to the CT people. Find out exactly what you need to do to get the carer exemption reinstated. If you can't get them on the phone they are obliged to have a formal complaints procedure. Their web site should give you details.

Also copy the complaint letter to your local councillors and to your M.P.

As for your car - I'm not sure as there is HP on it. Usually when a loan is tied to a car there is an amount that has to be paid back and once that amount has been paid then the car can't be re-possessed. Presumably after this amount the car is considered to be yours and the bailiffs can take it to cover the debt? Check this though as is just conjecture.

Has the car been adapted for disabled use? Bailiffs cannot take anything that is essential to your job or to the home (e.g. they can't take your cooker). So if it's critical to your daughter's need they can't take it. And if they try threaten to get the local paper round. They would leap on a story like that.

In answer to the question about having been to court - the answer is yes. This will have been to obtain a "liability order" against you prior to this you would have had to have at least a bill a reminder notice and a summons.

I appreciate that you have been trying to contact them but it really is CRITICAL that you talk to council about this. Go and sit in the waiting room and create merry hell if necessary. Demand to speak to a manager. Take everything you have with you.

The next stage (if the bailiff can't get entry a couple of times) is that he returns the warrant to the council and they start committal procedings so ^please please please^ deal with this.


katiestar Sun 19-Jul-09 21:38:20

Have you been summonsed squashette ?

Waspie Mon 20-Jul-09 13:34:19

Yes Katiestar op would have been summonsed to attend the maistrate's court for the liability order hearing.

At this hearing the Council have to prove that the relevant notices (bills, summonses etc) have been sent and that the amount is outstanding and then they are granted a liability order.

This liability order allows the council to send the debt onto a debt collection company or, if appropriate, apply an attachment of earnings or JSA order. This is where the amount is deducted at source from salary or benefits.

It's not an empty threat I'm afraid. The council aren't interested in scaring people they are interested in being paid what they think is owed!

katiestar Mon 20-Jul-09 14:40:56

But if she hasn't receibved a summons yet then they can't have an order.I have heard of debt collection agencies making outrageous threats before they have even had a hraring ?

littleducks Mon 20-Jul-09 14:52:05

I second the advice to go and sit in the council offices with all info

The council dont tend to scare people, baliffs however do whatever they want

scaryteacher Mon 20-Jul-09 15:34:47

The Council aren't legally allowed to pass the debt on without having a magistrates court liability order. Bailiffs are the least favoured option.

As long as it can proved that the summons was sent, then it is deemed to have been served. The legislation allows for proof of sending, not for proof of receipt.

The OP needs to get everything together, take it to the offices, including dates of telephone calls, names of the officers she spoke to, proof of payments made through the barcodes; and ask to speak to a supervisor, or the CTAX manager, as they have the authority to recall the debt from the bailiff. However, the LO will still stay in place until the debt is cleared, as the Council have to have the authority to send it back to the bailiff if the debt is defaulted on again.

If you make an arrangement, you MUST stick to it like superglue, as otherwise it will go back to the bailiff again.

Get hold of your local councillor as a matter of urgency and stress you are a carer for a disabled dd, as they should want to avoid the Council appearing uncaring in pursuing you. Local press as well perhaps?

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