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Equita + CTax. excessive fees? **WON - refunded both levy fees and ATR fee**

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Equita bailiffs turned up at a friends house yesterday, demanding payment of almost 2K for unpaid Council Tax for a property which is rented out.

 

My friend explained that the property is rented and that as far as he is aware there was no outstanding amount.

 

In November, he received a summons from the council, and he had phoned the council explaining that the property was occupied and that the tenant was paying the council tax.

 

The council asked that all documents ie. Tenancy Agreements were emailed or faxed to them and that they will change their records.

Nothing more was heard in regards to this issue since then.

 

As mentioned,

Equita bailiffs turned up yesterday.

 

My friends didn't let them in, but phoned the council straight away and eventually spoke to a helpful person,

who noted that a call was made in November and having gone through all the details,

my friend only owed just over one month's worth of Council Tax.

 

The figures are as follows:

 

Council Tax owed = £334.93

Bailiff Costs = 244.50

 

As far as I am aware, this is the first and only visit by the bailiffs.

Furthermore, the vehicle they came in was a car which had it's rear seats removed to create a larger storage area.

 

As they weren't allowed into the house,

they haven't made any levy against goods.

 

There were two vehicles parked.

 

One on the property itself and one on the road outside the house.

 

Neither vehicle is in my friends name, therefore I don't believe they are allowed to levy on those either.

The bailiffs were made aware that both vehicles are not in his name.

 

My friend paid the council tax arrears and also paid the bailiff charges under duress.

He was 3 young children, one of whom is very sickly.

So I think they would fall in the vulnerable category.

 

As I understand it, £24.50 should be the only legitimate amount the bailiffs can recover considering all the facts.

The other £220.00 are illegal/ recoverable fees.

 

I have already composed a letter to be sent to Equita, asking for a full breakdown of fees and all associated with it,

however I'm having problems composing a letter to sent to the Council in regards to having a breakdown for the liability order.

 

I'm sure I've seen something in the past, but for the life of my I can't seem to find it.

If anyone can help compose the letter, I'd be extremely grateful.

 

Does my friend have a just case to argue those fees? What steps would be recommended?

 

Any help given is extremely appreciated


CookieRocks

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if he paid by a card do achargeback..well fleeced!!

 

here are the letters

 

if you can pay you should be paying the council

direct via your internet banking site

never ever pay a bailiff.

.

Here is something to be getting on with. First of all establish from the Council how much was owing etc You need to speak to someone at the Council and ask the following questions:

1 - how many Liability Orders they have against you

2 - the dates they were obtained

3 - the addresses they were for

4 - the period of time each covers

5 - how much each one was for

6 - how much is still outstanding

7 - the dates they were passed on for enforcement

8 - the dates & amounts of any payments

.

Next you need to send off for a breakdown of the charges the Bailiff applied. Here's an example, use and adapt at will and best sent initially by email backed up by a copy in the post.

.

"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"

.

When you have the answers to the above go to the Bailiff Forum http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/newthread.php?do=newthread&f=168 and we'll see if we can help to claim back any unlawful or overcharged fees.

.

 

dx


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The tenants should be responsible for the council tax

bailiff fees are wrong

 

Start a formal complain to the council about there agents copy in local MP


If i have helped in any way hit my star.

any advice given is based on experience and learnt from this site :-)

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Inform the council that the Regulations, stat an OCCUPIER is liable to pay, so their agent the bailiff and themselves have acted ultra vires, seeking payment from the owner who was not in occupation.


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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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Please confirm the bailiff charges and tell me that the £244.50 is a typo?

WD

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Please confirm the bailiff charges and tell me that the £244.50 is a typo?

WD

 

Ifear that these are what have been preloaded and forced out of Op under duress, if they are the owner and were not in occupation for the period covered by the LO the council and Equita are very naughty indeed


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Hi, thanks for all the replies and help so far.

 

@dx100uk - Is it best to write to the council for the information regarding the LO? Or can we do that over the phone and ask for it to be sent in writing too?

 

@brassnecked - I believe the council were recovering an amount owed for when the property was unoccupied, which was literally for a 4 - 6 week period (The tenant had done a runner, leaving many things unpaid, which we are slowly finding out).

 

@wonkeydonky - All that is written on the Form 7 copy which my friend was given is:

 

Iventory of goods: two vehicle details (neither of which is owned by my friend)

Amount owing: Council Tax £334.93

Bailiff Charges: £244.50

Total: £579.43

(Spoke to my friend a while ago, they even charged £1.50 transaction fee (according to details on his online banking))

 

Thanks again.


CookieRocks

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Hi, thanks for all the replies and help so far.

 

@dx100uk - Is it best to write to the council for the information regarding the LO? Or can we do that over the phone and ask for it to be sent in writing too? By phone would be OK

 

@brassnecked - I believe the council were recovering an amount owed for when the property was unoccupied, which was literally for a 4 - 6 week period (The tenant had done a runner, leaving many things unpaid, which we are slowly finding out).

 

@wonkeydonky - All that is written on the Form 7 copy which my friend was given is:

 

Iventory of goods: two vehicle details (neither of which is owned by my friend)

Amount owing: Council Tax £334.93

Bailiff Charges: £244.50

Total: £579.43

(Spoke to my friend a while ago, they even charged £1.50 transaction fee (according to details on his online banking)) You must send off for the breakdown of charges as DX says, best done initially by email followed by a copy in the post.

 

Thanks again.

 

PT


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Hi PT,

 

I've told him to phone first thing tomorrow morning. So I'll hopefully have the LO info by the afternoon.

 

In regards to emailing Equita for a breakdown of charges, I just looked at Equita's website, and I'm a bit apprehensive of using their 'Contact Us Via Email' option, seems to be asking for information that I'm not comfortable providing, ie. telephone number (prefer dealing in writing only), NI Number?


CookieRocks

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That breakdown should make very interesting reading......no entry = no levy and 1 visit = £24.50 at best they can claim 2 visits with total charges being £42.50 ...big difference to £244.50 ?

 

WD

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I think Op should bang in a Formal Complaint to the Council as soon as all the info is in, and progress a chargeback on the card . It looks like Equita may well be having to fork out a substantial refund here, especially if the council in question has outsourced it's back office to Capita, who own Equita, as a Capquita council is best dealt with by a Formal Complaint due to you dealing with capita rather than a Council official when you phone.


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The local authority have made a SIGNIFICANT error. The Liability Order should NOT have been obtained and this is VERY serious indeed.

 

A complaint should be sent to the CHIEF EXECUTIVE of the council and the basis of the complaint is that the LO was wrong and that their AGENTS attended the property and charged fees that are ILLEGAL.

 

The local authority are wholly responsible for the levy and fees charged by THEIR AGENTS. It would seem that in levying upon cars that are not owned by the debtor that the local authority (in whose name the bailiff is acting have ignored the highly critical report from the Ombudsman in the case of BlabY District Council.

 

The local authority are responsible for ensuring that these fees are returned.

 

Copy your letter to Equita.

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I think that you should also demand the Council applies (only they can do this) to quoshthe Liability Order as it was obtained due to their error.


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The Magistrate was given permission for a Liabilty Order to be issued for a certain amount and I am concerned as to how it can be possible for the local authority to AMEND or CHANGE an order of the court.

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The Magistrate was given permission for a Liabilty Order to be issued for a certain amount and I am concerned as to how it can be possible for the local authority to AMEND or CHANGE an order of the court.

 

Surely the LO MUST remain as the court stamped it, and alterations after are unlawful?


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Wow, thanks for all the input and advice so far to everyone.

 

I'm still awaiting the info in regards to the LO from the council.

 

Whilst waiting for that, my friend found some unopened letters, which were found to be from the council. Seems he has had a few letters in regards to it. However, as already mentioned, when he received the Court Summons in November, he did phone them immediately and explained that he wasn't living in the property and that it was rented out. They gave a fax number to send over copies of the Tenancy Agreements, which he did straight away. Nothing heard from the council since then until the bailiffs turned up. According to the letters he read, Brent Council had been chasing for Council Tax amount of over £1700, when in reality he maybe owed just over £200 if LO fees of £120 are removed.

 

I'm really shocked that even though they had the information, albeit late on, they still allowed the bailiffs to come and demand the full £1700+ figure plus their own fees.

 

I've attached a copy of the Form 7 they gave, in case it helps.

 

I assume ideally I should await for the information from Brent Council and also a breakdown of fees charged by Equita before I initiate a chargeback and write a Formal Complaint to the council?


CookieRocks

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Hi guys.

 

Got the following information from the Council re: Liability Order.

 

1 - how many Liability Orders they have against you

Only one Liability Order

2 - the dates they were obtained

06/11/2012

3 - the addresses they were for

Correct Address

4 - the period of time each covers

On there system they are showing only the amended period which is 01 April 2012 - 17 May 2012

5 - how much each one was for

Again on there system its only showing the amended balance which is 214.93 plus 120 costs.

6 - how much is still outstanding

As of 17/01/13 there system is still showing 334.93 outstanding but i was told that its just a case of the file not being updated.

7 - the dates they were passed on for enforcement

30/12/2012

8 - the dates & amounts of any payments

Again there system hasn't been updated so its not showing any payments even though the balance was cleared through Equita.

I'm still waiting to hear from Equita in regards to Breakdown of their fees.


CookieRocks

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Hi.

 

Just got this letter from Equita a few days ago.

 

It makes interesting reading. Although I'm a bit annoyed that they haven't actually 'broken' it down clearly enough. I think I need to get back in touch with them. Any advice on how to word a letter which they will actually listen and follow through with?

 

The letter received is attached.

 

Thanks

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]40908[/ATTACH]


CookieRocks

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It doesn't look like the attachment attached properly. So just thought I'd type out what the letter says.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Further to youre recent correspondence please find detailed below the information requested.

 

STATEMENT

 

Our Ref:

Liability Order Date: 06/11/2012

 

Debt: £334.93

Statutory Visit Fees: £42.50

Visit/ Levy Fee: £34.00

Attendance Charges: £167.00

Card Fee: £2.50

 

TOTAL: £580.93

 

Total Received: £580.93

 

BALANCE: £ NIL

 

There have been numerous visits made by our external team in the attempted collection of the debt. On each occassion where no contact has been established, a letter would have been left.

 

Our enforcement office Jonathan ______ was certified at _______ County Court on the ____ April 2012.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Equit Ltd.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


CookieRocks

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On the break down of the fees do they list the dates of the attendance ,levy ect

 

I bet they have charged many on the same day

 

charging a levy on vehicles not owned by the debtor

 

Charging a attendance fee why did they not remove the vehicles

unless of coarse they turned up in a van to remove vehicles not owned by the debtor


If i have helped in any way hit my star.

any advice given is based on experience and learnt from this site :-)

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On the break down of the fees do they list the dates of the attendance ,levy ect

 

I bet they have charged many on the same day

 

charging a levy on vehicles not owned by the debtor

 

Charging a attendance fee why did they not remove the vehicles

unless of coarse they turned up in a van to remove vehicles not owned by the debtor

 

Thanks for the reply IHB.

 

There are no dates for anything in relation to the charges that they list, it's literally just a block list of the charges. Even though, having looked back on my original message to them, I did specifically ask for times and dates.

 

I need to write back and ask for a proper breakdown I suppose?


CookieRocks

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This appears to be a common way of doing things by Equita at present, hoping I suppose that it will keep the person enquiring happy. About time they pulled their socks up and did things correctly. As you have asked for a full breakdown which they have refused to supply you have enough to start making complaints to the Council, MOJ, your MP, Councillors etc. And yes you need to write again expressing your dissatisfaction at the way this hs been presented.


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I am sorry but I am going to be critical here.

 

In my post on 10th Janaury I had said the following:

 

 

The local authority have made a SIGNIFICANT error. The Liability Order should NOT have been obtained and this is VERY serious indeed.

 

A complaint should be sent to the CHIEF EXECUTIVE of the council and the basis of the complaint is that the LO was wrong and that their AGENTS attended the property and charged fees that are ILLEGAL.

The local authority are wholly responsible for the levy and fees charged by THEIR AGENTS. It would seem that in levying upon cars that are not owned by the debtor that the local authority (in whose name the bailiff is acting have ignored the highly critical report from the Ombudsman in the case of BlabY District Council.

The local authority are responsible for ensuring that these fees are returned.

 

Copy your letter to Equita.

 

 

You had already confirmed that a levy had been made upon cars that are not yours. You also knew the amount of fees charged by Equita. You also were informed by the council as to the amount of the Liability Order.

 

I am therefore surprised that precious time is being wasted in writing to Equita to request a breakdown or the council for confirmation of the amount of the Liability Order. This information is alrady known to you!!!

 

 

By now a letter of complaint should have been sent to the Chief Executive of the council as their bailiff company have levied upon two cars that are not owned by you and this is wholly against the Local Government Ombudsman's report against Blaby District Council. It is clear that the levy fee and "enforcement fee" must be returned by the council asap.

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Just a quick question.

 

If the LO is for the wrong amount, does that make the LO invalid? Or are the council able to adjust the figure as they want?


CookieRocks

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