Based on the legal laws of the UK, Council Tax is classified as being a priority debt. As the name suggests, these debts are the first ones that you must arrange to pay off. If you fail to do so, the amount would be added as debt arrears to your tax bill. Other such types of debts include criminal fees and income tax among others.
If you keep ignoring these debts, that might get you in a lot of trouble. In other types of debts, you’ll be facing a regular debt collector from a debt recovery agency. For council taxes, however, the court will send bailiffs to your home. These people have special powers for collecting your debt. That is rightfully supposed to make you a little worried.
In the worst case, you might even face court action. So, you must act while you have the time. You’ll find all the information here that will help you dealing with bailiffs council tax collection.
Who has to pay Council Tax?
For every resident of England, Wales, and Scotland over the age of 18, who owns a home or has rented one, it is mandatory to pay a council tax to their local council. Now, the amount you have to pay will depend on a few different things. Also, you might get a discount if you fulfil some conditions. If you are required to pay a Council Tax, you would get a bill with your name on it. You must make sure to avail all the considerations and discounts that are applicable.
What is the amount that you’re required to pay?
Not everyone is required to pay the same amount. The Council Tax differs from one case to another. So, someone you know could be charged a higher or lower amount, when compared to yours. Depending on the value of your home, it will be classified under a valuation band. Each band has a fixed charge, which differs from one local council to another.
Now, you might not always be required to pay the original amount that is charged. They would also take into consideration the number of people living in your house and give discounts for some cases. If you have a disability, that might get some amount deducted from your council tax as well. Other than these, there are a few other conditions that can get you a discount as well.
Can you avail a discount?
In some cases where it’s rightful to do so, your local council will relax the amount you’ll have to pay. If you live alone in your house, you will be exempted from 25% of the original amount. In case you have a second home, you’ll get a discount of 50%. You can also apply for an exemption if you don’t live in your house and it’s lying empty.
Full-time students can also apply for a reduction, provided that they fulfil some criteria. People who are mentally disabled are completely exempted and are not required to pay a single penny. If you or any person living in your house is disabled, you can apply for a reduction in council tax. To avail it, you must have additional space inside the house for the purpose of moving a wheelchair. Also, you must have an extra room for the disabled person.
What happens when you have unpaid Council Tax?
When you owe your local council, they can have a liability order passed against you in a magistrates’ court. The amount you owe in addition to the extra charges would be specified in it. Since spouses are also responsible for paying council tax, they may get a liability order from the court too.
If you don’t pay even after this, they will start legal action against you. So, if you can’t afford your Council Tax, you must contact and negotiate with the concerned authority. They are generally helpful and you can work out a payment plan with them. Otherwise, you might get a visit from a bailiff regarding the payment of your council tax and then you might be dealing with bailiffs council tax. The only way you’d be able to prevent that is by paying or showing a commitment to do so.
Can a Bailiff enter your house forcefully?
While dealing with bailiffs council tax, when a bailiff visits your house, they can enter if you have let the door open. In such a case, they are authorized to get inside even if you’re not inside. Otherwise, they’ll need your permission to come inside and talk to you. So, you can refuse them if you’re uncomfortable, and they’ll have to go back. However, they can enter forcefully in some cases such as for the purpose of collecting income tax.
You can ask them to show their identification just to be sure. Even if you don’t let them in, they have the power to take control of your belongings lying outside your house. This includes your car among other things, so you might want to keep it in a garage. If you let them in once, you can’t refuse to let them in when they come back to take your goods.
What would they do once you let them inside?
Once they come inside our house, the enforcement agents will ask you to pay the debt. At that point, you can pay them the full amount or make a payment plan if you want to. So, the time to start some kind of arrangement hasn’t gone yet.
If you fail to do both, they’ll have no option, but to make a list of your goods to be taken away. Before that, you would be required to sign a Controlled Goods Agreement (CGA). Further, they can add only certain types of goods to the list, provided that you’re the owner. The transport and storage fees for the goods would be added to your total debt amount.
Which goods can they take from your house?
If you are dealing with bailiffs council tax, they cannot take any of your essential items such as clothes, furniture, gadgets such as phone and fridge, etc. In addition to that, they also can’t take away any necessary items that are valued below £1,350. Other than these, they can take away pretty much everything, which would mostly be luxury items. They cannot take away anything that is owned by someone other than you.
If you want to get them back, you’ll have to pay your council tax debt within a certain period of time. Otherwise, they’ll be auctioned off to recover the money. Suppose if there’s still some amount left to be paid after the sale, you’ll have to pay it. They’re simply not going to write off your debt so easily.
How can you stop them from taking away your goods?
If you restrict them from taking control of your gods, that would be a breach of the CGA you signed and agreed upon. Instead of helping you in any way, that would clearly get you in trouble. In such a case, they would simply send you a letter to notify you that bailiffs will be visiting you again. Though this time, they won’t require your permission to come into your house. If you try to stop them, they are authorized to use a reasonable amount of force to enter. In case you have locked your door, they will simply bring along a locksmith to open it.
What to do when you face harassment from them?
Enforcement agents have no right to harass you in any way and under any circumstance. If you face such behaviour, you can complain about them. You can explain everything clearly to the bailiff company through a letter. Since the bailiffs were acting on behalf of the council, you can complain to them as well. Also, you can complain against them in the court form where the bailiff obtained certification. If the court is convinced, it can cancel the certification temporarily.
What are the other ways they will recover the amount?
In many cases, people refuse to meet the bailiff. The court then takes some other actions in these situations. They might decide to directly recover the amount from your salary, pension, or benefits that you receive, after informing you.
In some cases, they might even secure the loan against your house, if you owe more than £1000. If they are convinced you can’t pay, the council can also file a bankruptcy petition against you. In England, deliberately refusing to write off this debt can even result in imprisonment, though things rarely get that far.