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Equita Bailiffs / council tax (debt from 8 years ago)


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Out of the blue 2 months ago I received a letter from Equita Bailiffs, Northampton...

 

My Bailiffs and assistants have today called at your premises to remove your goods for sale at public auction to discharge your debt of £177.77

which is due in respect of unpaid council tax owed to the council.

 

I would prefer that you are present when the goods are removed, and i would be grateful if you would contact my office to arrange a suitably convenient time.

In the absence of any communication from you we will call again without further notice to remove goods.

 

If you wishto pay the debt rather thanhave your goods seized and sold at public auction please send the balance shown above to our office forthwith.

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I went into the council to find out what it was about and was told it is for a property i lived at 8 years ago.

 

At the time I lived there I was a single parent in receipt of Income support with a 2 year old child. as far as i am aware I received Housing benefit and Council tax benefit. I never once received any letters to say otherwise whilst living at the property.

 

I have received income support and on full award council tax and housing benefit from 1998 up until about 6 years ago.

 

They asked me to sign a statement of the above information and told me they would forward it to the council tax benefits section for them to confirm.

They also told me the account would be put on hold and they would inform Equita to hold off the case until further notice.

 

I received a letter back from the benefits section on Friday just gone and it read:

 

Thank you for your visit to the office regarding your council Tax benefit entitlement.

You are querying your benefit entitlement for a period during the financial year 1999/2000.

I am sorry that we are unable to provide this information due to the age of your enquiry.

weHave a legal requirement to delete records both computerised and paper based after 6 years. Your enquiry falls outside this time frame and therefor we do not have the information to be able to answer your enquiry.

---------

Then today I received this letter from Equita:

 

We write with reference to the unpaid amount owing to the council for council tax owing on ( address)

A Liability order has now been passed to us , we therefor require the sum of 195.77 by return of post.

 

Failiure to discharge this debt will result in our bailiff calling wihtout further notice to enforce the order by seizing your goods and chattels, which will then be sold at public auction. This will involve considerable additional costs which will also become payable by you.

 

Please contact our office immediately with your proposals for discharging this debt.

--------

I have been on the phone all day today to the council trying to sort this matter out but havent got anywhere, nobody seems to be able to help me and the only advice they gave me is 'pay the debt'.

 

Unfortunately I havent got much in the form of letters from so long ago so this is really difficult for me as its hard to remember all the details.

 

I was told on the phone by the council tax departmet today that apparantly one month after i moved out of the property they wrote to me there as its the only address they had for me, (even though I informed them of my new address and moved into a different council), and a month after that a summons to court was issued against me at the old address too. at this time I was living in another privately rented house in receipt of income support still and receiving full award of housing benefit and council tax benefit.

 

I am really quite baffled. I have always filled out housing benefit and council tax benefit forms at the same time when moving house and always received the full award being an unemployed single parent on income support. At the time I would of had proof in writing from housing benefit and council tax benefit, but i cleared out the loft about a year ago and got rid of all old letters. ( thats typical isnt it! )

The first I have ever heard of this debt was 2 months ago when the Bailiffs wrote to me.

 

 

 

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Ok, so you can't prove you don't owe the money, but they can't prove that you do.

 

I would ask to go through their complaints procedure and put all action on hold until they do this. Advise you do not acknowledge the debt.

 

If they won't let you go through their complaints procedure, go straight to the local government ombudsman. it would probably be worthwhile speaking to your local councillor too.

 

Mods, perhaps this is better in the bailiffs section?

All help is merely my opinion only - please seek legal advice if you need to as I am only qualified in SEN law.

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The LGO would not get involved unless you had already gone through the council's own complaints procedure, I'm afraid.

All help is merely my opinion only - please seek legal advice if you need to as I am only qualified in SEN law.

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  • 3 weeks later...
The LGO would not get involved unless you had already gone through the council's own complaints procedure, I'm afraid.

 

o.k This is my next course of action... I have written to the Income Support people and asked if they can send me proof I was on benefit at the time, waiting to hear back from them...course the council said on the phone to me 'just because I was on single parent Income support doesnt mean I would of automatically got council tax benefit, so while it will support what I am telling them, it wont prove I was entitled'

 

my reply to them was, How on earth then would I pay £300 pcm Rent to a private landlord on the benefits I was on? I didnt work! it was about £75 a week income support If i remember rightly. I was on full award housing benefit and thought I was on full award Council tax benefit too!

 

does the fact that i cant prove i was on council tax benefit or housing benefit over 6 years ago mean then that the private landlord could at any time decide I owe him months and months worth of rent?

 

 

Just going to have to take this one step at a time I think, But the council said they will only put a hold on the account for 4 weeks before they give the bailiffs the 'go ahead' again. I just hope Income Support dont take too long to find my file. I want to send the proof in with my complaint you see.

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Why don't you try calling the IS department and explaining how important this is.

 

You have a genuine dispute, so if it gets near the 4 weeks mark, call again and ask to speak to the supervisor and explain the situation. If he/she won't help, keep going higher until you get someone who will.

 

It might be worth talking to your local councillor and getting them to intervene on your behalf too.

All help is merely my opinion only - please seek legal advice if you need to as I am only qualified in SEN law.

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This is carp - I'm having a problem with an old council of my hubbies demanding back an alleged overpayment from 5.5 years ago and he needs to prove he was receiving JSA at that time, so have been on the phone this morning sorting this out.

 

What they need to do is to get a processor to drag up your information.

 

If you phone Glasgow Jobcentre plus on 0845 603 63 and explain the situation, they should either be able to help you or tell you who to call in oredr to get the right information.

All help is merely my opinion only - please seek legal advice if you need to as I am only qualified in SEN law.

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