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Got home from work the other day to find a letter pushed through the door stating that they had visited with regard to a council tax debt.

 

I am currently paying some arrears off with an agreement with the council, and have not defaulted on this. So i was a bit confused as to why it had been passed to bailiffs.

 

I emailed B&S and explained that i was in an arrangement and did not think this was correct action. I also paid an extra £50 to the council as i had some surplus funds this month.

 

Got an email back today quoting a payment arrangement that bore no relation to the one i have agreed with the council, and they referred to their suggested repayment options of £70 immediately followed by £75 a week until the debt is clear. This is totally unaffordable for me, there is no way i could pay £300 extra on top of my rent etc. each month.

 

I spoke to the council today, and it turns that this is a completely different account, going back to 2009, relating to a property that i shared with my ex wife, and it is likely it was her arrangement to pay that has been defaulted. The council confirmed that my current arrangement is not in default and has not been passed to bailiffs.

 

The council have said that now it is with the bailiffs they can't do anything and i have to talk to the bailiffs. The ex wife has not been visited by them, despite it being a joint debt, and the fact that she lives literally one street away.

Of course, she is on benefits and gets council tax benefit so the bailiffs (and the council) know it is pointless to pursue her as they won't get anything....whereas i am working so an easy target!

 

I can contribute something to help clear this debt but is not going to be anywhere near the £75 a week the bailiffs want, more like £5 a week. Incidentally, the extra £50 i paid was to this joint debt and not my single account as i thought. I just used the reference number from the bailiff letter because i honestly thought i only had one payment arrangement......

 

What can i do to get these leeches off my back? I don't own a car, but i do have a computer (on HP), a cooker (on HP), a rather nice TV which is loaned to me by friends who helped me get back on my feet following the marriage break up and my redundancy.

The ex owns a car, which i have use of when needed for work, if they take that, then i will have to give up work as i work unsocial hours when there is no public transport available, and she would struggle to get our youngest to school as she has a medical problem which means she struggles to walk some days.

 

I really didn;t need this in the run up to Xmas, but want to get it sorted.

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Put quite simply ignore Mr B altogether.

There is no law that says you have to talk to or deal with a Bailiff.

Most importantly do not allow him access to your home & anyway goods on HP cannot be seized.

 

Providing no goods have been seized then you are free to do with them as you please - give away, sell, donate etc.

 

The car should be parked well away if possible.

 

If your newest best friend does call, don't answer the door but speak through the letterbox or upstairs window and if possible record the conversation.

 

You could always pay the Council direct via online banking, Council website or automated phone - this will start to give a payment history which the Council will find hard to argue with.

 

If paying this way pay a set amount at regular intervals - £5 each Thursday for example.

If doing this you may have to budget extra for some lawful Bailiff fees.

 

PT

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  • 1 month later...

Today, i have come home from work to find a "Notification of Bailiff Visit" letter through the door. It basically says that they attended to seize my goods and will call again without notice.

 

It is addressed to both me and the ex wife, who doesn't live with me. However she has not received any visits from the bailiffs at all......wonder if that is because she is on benefits?

 

They have included a charge for todays visit, but it is illegible. Could be £15 or £35?

 

I have previously spoke to the council about this account and the payment arrangement that exists on it, but they are refusing to even discuss it. They just keep saying they cannot do any thing on the account as it is "with the bailiffs". Is this correct? Do they not have any responsibility or control over the bailiffs?

 

Can they check number plates to discover vehicle ownership? As i said in my OP the ex owns a car which i use for work, and if they seize it i will be out of a job!

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Padfoot (you sound familiar, have I responded to you in the past???), obviously the bailiff is chasing you as they feel they'll get the best deal cashwise from you. Council tax is a debt that is owed - I forget the exact term - jointly but each debtor can be persued individually for the full amount. This is what is happening to you. However, how well do you get on with your near neighbour and ex-spouse? Whilst she is on benefits, assuming JSA, ESA or IS, then both the bailiff and council are aware that they can have an attachment to benefits. This is normally in the region of £3 - £6pw and bailiff fees are waived. Far better to go down this route and go halves with your ex ...

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What ever you do do not let the bailiff into your home. I would start paying token payment to the council via their on line payment facility on their website. I would then email them letting them know that this is what you are doing.

Let them know that you will not be dealing with their bailiffs but you are not refusing to pay off this debt. Explain you cannot afford to pay the amount that they are asking for. The council can take back the debt at any time.

In future do not speak with them but email, this will leave a paper trail of all correspondence to prove that you are a willing payer and are not deliberately avoiding the debt. The bailiffs cannot force their way in. The LO is in your name. If the car is in your name then its best that it stays at your ex's house or it is hidden well.

If the car is in your name then it will be possible that they will levy on it if they know where your wife lives.

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It's Joint and Several liability they are using where both partners, are both liable for the CTax, and where they can't get it off one they will chase the other as BOTH are absolutely liable for the debt. they don't care which one pays so long as they get the money. they will automatically chose the one working to chase for the debt.

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......Got an email back today quoting a payment arrangement that bore no relation to the one i have agreed with the council, and they referred to their suggested repayment options of £70 immediately followed by £75 a week until the debt is clear.....

 

....I spoke to the council today, and it turns that this is a completely different account, going back to 2009, relating to a property that i shared with my ex wife, and it is likely it was her arrangement to pay that has been defaulted. The council confirmed that my current arrangement is not in default and has not been passed to bailiffs.

 

.... Incidentally, the extra £50 i paid was to this joint debt and not my single account as i thought. I just used the reference number from the bailiff letter because i honestly thought i only had one payment arrangement......

 

If what's in this document is true (Council Tax Investigation), your authority's council tax payment system, may allocate your payment to a different years account, depending on the amount you pay. For example, if you have a payment arrangement and your payment doesn't exactly match the agreed amount, the computer may allocate this money to your oldest account, unless there is specific instruction nominating the account which receives payment.

 

This may be worth bearing in mind, in case your council's system operates this way.

 

From the link:

 

3.3.1 The collection and reporting of Council Tax income is straightforward when a tax payer pays their annual charge within that year. Complexities arise when a Council Tax Payer falls into arrears and owes the council money for past years as well as the current year. There is significant case law (for example, Peter v Anderson (1814)) however, put simply, if a person specifies which years debt the payment should be assigned it should be assigned to that years debt.

 

3.3.2 The council tax system has built in allocation rules to ensure that the law with respect to specified payments is met. For instance, if a customer has a payment plan for any year of debt and the payment they make matches the planned instalment then the money will be allocated to that year (this is known as “hard” allocation on the council tax system). If the system is unable to “hard allocate” then it will instead “soft” allocate and the debt will be used against the oldest debt unless manually adjusted.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just had another visit.....this time i was in.

 

Didn't answer the door or even respond to the knocks.

 

Have had a letter put through which is a "Final Warning".

 

I have been paying the previously agreed amount to the Council, but they are refusing to take the debt back. How long till the bailiff's get bored and hand it back?

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How long's a piece of string. When they realise they are not getting anything they will give up but this can take on average 3-6 months.

 

PT

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  • 3 years later...

Just had a letter arrive from Bristow Sutor stating that enforcement action has commenced over a £670 CT debt that i owe.

 

£75 has already been added to the debt presumably for them sending the letter?

 

They want over £300 a month in payments to clear the debt in 11 weeks......totally unaffordable for us.

 

I'm married but the debt is solely in my name as it was for a period where we were separated and i was living elsewhere.

 

I don't own any goods as such as the car is in my wife's name, and the house we rent is solely in her name but I am the main wage earner so I pay the rent etc.

 

Obviously I need to contact them to arrange a more affordable payment schedule....but am I going to have problems when i tell them i can only afford a maximum of £50 a month?

 

Really stressed about this......especially leading up to Xmas.....looks like my son is going without this year.

 

I am planning to write direct to the Council offering an affordable monthly payment, and copy it to the bailiffs.....are there any template letters about for this?

 

Also, really worried about the car....if it gets grabbed I cannot work, and then will not be able to pay anything!

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they cant 'grab you' or the car if you hide it - there no right of forced entry on ctax debt.

 

 

if you go direct to the council

you'll still have to pay the £75 fee

at all costs you need to stop him attending again

else that's an extra £235!

 

 

get moving with the council

 

 

dx

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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It is usually the case that the local authority who you owe the debt to will dictate to period of time that a payment arrangement should be set up for. Some councils are better than other by providing in their contracts that payment terms could be as long as 6 months.. With local authories supposedly struggling financially many are insisting that arrangements should be for just 3 months. Either way, most councils require the debt to be repaid before the the start of the new council tax year (April 2016). Have you provided an Income and Expenditure to Bristow & Sutor?

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The problem that you have is that with council tax, the debt is a joint debt and whilst your name may be on the letter both you and your wife are jointly liable. That means that the enforcement agent can indeed take a vehicle belonging to your wif.

 

It is usually the case that the local authority who you owe the debt to will dictate to period of time that a payment arrangement should be set up for. Some councils are better than other by providing in their contracts that payment terms could be as long as 6 months.. With local authories supposedly struggling financially many are insisting that arrangements should be for just 3 months. Either way, most councils require the debt to be repaid before the the start of the new council tax year (April 2016). Have you provided an Income and Expenditure to Brustoe & Sutor?

 

Can it be a joint debt if the property that it relates to was never occupied by my wife? We were separated at the time and lived apart. She has paid her CT on the property she was living in for that period...so surely they can't then make her liable for a debt that never applied to her in the first place?

 

I haven't sent anything to B&S yet.....only just managed to get onto their website.....tried to enter a different repayment schedule but they rejected it immediately. They want an immediate payment of £100+ then monthly payments of £125......

 

If they take the car, i will lose my job as i won't be able to get to work.......which means i won't be able to make any repayments.......and as the car is virtually scrap anyway....it won't cover the debt!

 

I'm happy to pay the debt but need to make it for an affordable repayment otherwise something else won't get paid like the rent or this years CT!

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You'd been offered a standard opening arrangement and you have said their online agreement negotiator allowed a significant change in the size of instalments.

 

If you still cannot pay that ring them up and try to negotiate lower instalments.

 

It may be however that the council's instructions do not allow as long to pay as you hope.

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I suggest you get in touch with your local Councillor and ask they intervene on your behalf. Best initial contact is by phone and you can find out who to contact from https://www.writetothem.com/

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If they take the car, i will lose my job as i won't be able to get to work.......which means i won't be able to make any repayments.......and as the car is virtually scrap anyway....it won't cover the debt!

 

I'm happy to pay the debt but need to make it for an affordable repayment otherwise something else won't get paid like the rent or this years CT!

 

Yours is clearly a most unusual situation but I would not for one minute give you assurance that 'your wife's' car would not be seized. The regulations are very clear that 'jointly owned' goods can be taken (and they are taken every day) and your case is even more complicated as you are not only a named driver on the insurance policy....but you rely upon your wife's car for YOUR employment.

 

I would suggest that you phone B & S and try to secure a more affordable payment proposal.

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