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My girlfriend is currently having difficulties with bailiffs from Ross & Roberts Co, in February she uncovered a huge discrepancy between what the bailiff was charging (and threatening to add) and what was actually owed, she was able to get a full breakdown of the debt by emailing Ross & Roberts directly and the debt was transferred to a new bailiff, this morning she had a first visit from the new bailiff while she was out, the letter from the new bailiff is as follows.

 

FIRST NOTICE

 

We have attended today in respect of your debt. Unless you contact me immediately I will return to your property with a view to levy distress (listing your goods) as a security against this debt which will incur further costs. Further statutory costs under the Council Tax Regulations 1992 will become payable.

 

 

On contacting the bailiff he quoted the debt as being £782.45, despite Ross & Roberts H/O confirming the debt as only £364.90 just a few weeks ago. He claimed the increase was due to C/T debt from 2010/2011 having been added (even though my girlfriend is paying this in instalments direct to the council). He also claimed that if he comes to the property and makes a levy distress order it will add about £200 to the debt.

 

He is unwilling to discuss any payment plan until she makes a payment of £182.45 (coincidentally exactly half the debt she was quoted in February) within two weeks, she made it clear that this would be impossible as she only gets £130 per fortnight in benefits and is paying rent and C/T out of that money.

 

Is it worth emailing Ross & Roberts H/O again to verify the debt and query the vague figures being quoted by their agent (who titles himself 'Bailiff In Charge'.

 

She has contacted the council this morning and is awaiting a reply on what is happening with the 2010/2011 C/T account.

 

I don't know if it is any help but she is on DLA due to suffering from long term depression.

 

Could really do with some help on this please.:|

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I assume you do not live together? In my view your gf would be classed as vulnerable under the National Standards for Enforcement Agents http://www.dca.gov.uk/enforcement/agents02.htm#part10 to aid this she needs to write to both Council & Bailiffs outlining her condition, she will also need to provide some form of proof - letter from doctor etc. The proof could be sent afterwards as it is more important to get the notification off first. If agreed then the debt should be handed back to the Council for them to administer, is she on any Benefits?

 

You say she has had a previous breakdown of fees. Did this include a levy & attendance charges perhaps. It may be time she asks for another. In the meantime she needs to check with the Council:

1 - how many Liability orders are in place

2 - how much each is for

3 - how much is outstanding on each

4 - what periods of time they cover

5 - when each one was obtained

6 - when each one was passd for enforcement

 

PT


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No, we are not living together, I am in London and she is fifty miles away in Portsmouth. She has contacted the council and has asked for a breakdown of what is owed although it will now be monday at the earliest before she gets an answer.

 

Two previous visits have been made and she has been charged accordingly. I am unsure of how many liability orders have been made but the money owed is across three annual bills going back to 2008.

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She needs to contact the Council ASAP on Monday and ask the questions I posed before. In the meantime she must send off for a breakdown of the charges from the bailiff:

 

"From:

My Name

My Address

 

To:

Acme Bailiff Co

Bailiff House

 

Ref: Account No: 123456

 

Dear Sir

 

With reference to the above account, Can you please provide me with a breakdown of the charges.

 

This includes:

a - the time & date of any Bailiff action that incurred a Fee.

b - the reason for the fee.

c - the name(s) of the Bailiff(s) that attended on each occasion a Fee was charged.

d - the name(s) of the Court(s) the Bailiff(s) was/were Certificated at.

e - the date of the Certification.

 

This is not a Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act S7 1998 so does not incur a fee of £10. You are obliged to provide this information.

 

I require this information within 14 days.

 

Yours faithfully

 

Ripped off customer"

 

Adapt the above for her own purposes and send initially be email - no reason why it can't be done tonight - followed by a copy in the post - do it in the morning, jobs a good 'un then as the bailiffs will have it all on Monday morning. Tell her not to speak to the Bailiff on the phone unless she can record the call. Have a good read of some of the threads on here for other things she can do.

 

Whatever happens make sure she NEVER allows them into her home under ANY circumstances.

 

PT


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Hi Railman, hope you follow the link that Ploddertom provided for the National Standards as this is quite important.

As your girlfriend is on DLA and other benefits (presumably ESA?) and has depression then the case needs to be returned to the Council. She needs to write to the Head of Revenues detailing her illness, benefits and what level of DLA she receives. If on ESA / JSA then these are deductable benefits and she can request that the council deducts from her benefit (about £5pw equivalent). Enclose supporting evidence and request the case is taken back inhouse. Copy all to Ross & Roberts. Send both by signed for.

Rae

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There is no question of whether she owes the money or not, that has never been in dispute so would it be worth making an affordable but regular payment direct to Ross & Roberts via their website as a means of showing intent to pay?

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"....would it be worth making an affordable but regular payment direct to Ross & Roberts via...."

 

just a personal opinion, but no, absolutely not

"why talk to the monkey [about peanuts] when you can talk to the organ grinder?"

 

there is nothing to gain by dealing with the bay leaves

but plenty of potential for loss

 

given the vulnerable status marked by benefits type, this case ought be taken back by the council immediately

& considered for a vulnerability waiver

 

ANY failure on the part of pompeii council to do this is grounds for a service complaint to the council

 

lastly, echoing previous comments, despatch letters using royal mail recorded delivery

[& keep a proper diary of your interactions - when each letter arrived etc]

 

further good reference on bay leaves & all sorts available as factsheet pdf downloads from

national debtline website

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There is no question of whether she owes the money or not, that has never been in dispute so would it be worth making an affordable but regular payment direct to Council via their website as a means of showing intent to pay?

 

PT


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There is no question of whether she owes the money or not, that has never been in dispute so would it be worth making an affordable but regular payment direct to Ross & Roberts via their website as a means of showing intent to pay?

 

Railman, no-one is disputing this. Paying the bailiffs always has the threat of further charges being added and extra stress. You must appreciate your girlfriend is classed as vulnerable and that the vulnerable status was created to allow a case to be returned to a council in order to alleviate the stress and pressure on the vulnerable person. The best move would be an attachment to benefits where she does not have to worry about it at all...

Rae

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Railman, no-one is disputing this. Paying the bailiffs always has the threat of further charges being added and extra stress. You must appreciate your girlfriend is classed as vulnerable and that the vulnerable status was created to allow a case to be returned to a council in order to alleviate the stress and pressure on the vulnerable person. The best move would be an attachment to benefits where she does not have to worry about it at all...

Rae

 

What Rae is suggesting is correct, the bailiffs should not be involved in this situation, and is compounding the problem. If the council does not take it away from the bailiffs then a Formal Complaint to the council's complaints department and Head of Revenues, copied to Council leader, councillor and MP citing their continued harassment and pursuit in spite of her vulnerable status making bailiff action inappropriate, is the way forward. The guidelines are there to protect people like your girlfriend, and it is abhorrerent when bailiffs and councils that have agreed to them carry on chasing regardless.


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Thanks for the advice which I will endeavor to act on in the coming days. I am now back in London with limited internet access so I'll do what I can for my girlfriend in a few days when I see her.

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Things have not changed on this matter, Ross & Roberts have failed to respond to any communications, the bailiff has made no contact and the council keep saying they'll call back but never do. It is now three weeks since the letter from the bailiff arrived but my girlfriend still has no written breakdown of what is owed and why. More importantly she has not made any payments to anybody and I am concerned that it will look like she is making no effort to repay the debt which is not the case. She wants to make regular payments of £10 per week (maybe more) to start settling the issue but doesn't know how to do it. Given Ross & Roberts previous poor form and their lack of communication means that she would like to make such payments direct to the council, would that be an advisable route to take? If not are there any other options that will at least show an intent to pay?

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If no communication is forthcoming from the enemy then maybe it is time to contact the local Councillor(s) and appriase them of the situation and lack of action despite legitimate requests. She can indeed make payment direct to the Council by using their website or automated phone line, if you do make sure a regular amount is paid on a regular basis. In the meantime if the Bailiff turns up just ignore him.

 

PT


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It is important to be aware that with council tax, the local authority are WHOLLY RESPONSIBLE for the fees and charges of their agents. Therefore, it is without doubt that a formal Letter of Complaint is sent to the council straight away to outline the fact that the company have not gained entry and that you are concerned at the level of fees (which are limited to just £42.50) and that their agent is refusing to respond to your partners enquiries etc.

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