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I stuck my head in the sand with council tax last year and ended up having my debt passed to Equita. It got to enforcement stage before I managed to get someone to agree to a payment plan with me. I agreed to 250pm at the time as I was in full time work. I lost my job in April and rang Equita before my payment was due to advise them that I wouldn't be able to pay the same amount but would be willing to carry on paying a much smaller amount until I get back into work. (I'm currently waiting on an award of benefits from the DWP and have been given a council tax reduction for this year based on nil income until awarded universal credit because of this). When I rang Equita I was told that final payment had been taken and my account had been closed and that it was all fine by them. I didn't think to get the name of who I spoke to :|

 

On the 8th, I was rung by one of their enforcement agents who told me that my last payment hadn't actually been made and they were informed of this on the 4th. He told me he would be coming round on the 9th. I rang him back later on in the day, he said he'd call me back in around 45 minutes and never did. He also has;t turned up at my flat. Since then I haven't been able to get in contact with him. I've called and texted, I've rung Equita, they said they couldn't do anything and out me back through to their bailiff who didn't answer the phone.

 

I'm totally lost, I can't afford anything near what I was paying them back. The most I can spare is around 20 quid a month and I don't even know how much benefit I'm actually going to be given at the end of this month. I've been trying to find someone to talk to about it in the company but I'm at a total dead end. I can't spend forever in my flat waiting for him to eventually decide to show up!

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It would seem from your above post that a payment arrangement had been set up at the 'enforcement' stage (when a fee of £235 had been applied). If so, did the agent come into your home?

 

Did you sign a Controlled Goods Agreement?

 

What was the original debt?

 

How much is still outstanding?

 

Do you have a motor vehicle? If so, is it parked on your drive or outside of your home?

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Hi

 

I would not feel I had to wait in for them if they have not had the courtesy to make arrangements to attend with you. There is nothing they can do if you are not there(or even if you are) as long as no control goods agreement has been made at a previous visit. They cannot force entry for a council tax debt, and they cannot add further charges unless they have previously taken control of goods.

 

If you did nothing the debt would eventually be handed back to the council and any uncollected fees would be taken off the bill. Have you tried contacting the council, they will undoubtedly refer you back to the EA so you must be persistent.

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES TO COLD CALLERS PROMISING TO WRITE OFF YOUR DEBTS

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES FOR COSTLY TELEPHONE CONSULTATIONS WITH SO CALLED "EXPERTS" THEY INVARIABLY ARE NOTHING OF THE SORT

BEWARE OF QUICK FIX DEBT SOLUTIONS, IF IT LOOKS LIKE IT IS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT INVARIABLY IS

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Yeah it was made at the enforcement stage which I accepted. I never saw a bailiff, I got one of their enforcement notices through the door, panicked and rang them to organise a plan. I was originally going to go for 200 a month but the bailiff insisted on 250.

 

They definitely haven't been into my flat, I definitely haven't signed a controlled goods agreement although the bailiff that rang me on the 8th said that there would be a fee of 110 pounds when he arrived at my flat which I don't see how he can charge.

 

Original debt was 608.26, plus Equita fees brought it up to 843.26. I paid 100 straight away and another 2 lots of 250 before i lost my job so according to Equita I still owe 243.26

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Yeah it was made at the enforcement stage which I accepted. I never saw a bailiff, I got one of their enforcement notices through the door, panicked and rang them to organise a plan. I was originally going to go for 200 a month but the bailiff insisted on 250.

 

They definitely haven't been into my flat, I definitely haven't signed a controlled goods agreement although the bailiff that rang me on the 8th said that there would be a fee of 110 pounds when he arrived at my flat which I don't see how he can charge.

 

Original debt was 608.26, plus Equita fees brought it up to 843.26. I paid 100 straight away and another 2 lots of 250 before i lost my job so according to Equita I still owe 243.26

 

If you made an offer after receipt of the letter, you were not at enforcement stage, you would be at compliance, enforcement stage commences at the first visit. An addition l fee of £235 would be applied after the first visit, if you were in or not.

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES TO COLD CALLERS PROMISING TO WRITE OFF YOUR DEBTS

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES FOR COSTLY TELEPHONE CONSULTATIONS WITH SO CALLED "EXPERTS" THEY INVARIABLY ARE NOTHING OF THE SORT

BEWARE OF QUICK FIX DEBT SOLUTIONS, IF IT LOOKS LIKE IT IS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT INVARIABLY IS

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I think I was given the notice after they'd visited and found that I wasn't in so I think they were right there with their 235 added on.

 

And just saw, no I don't own a car

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I see so when you say that your original debt was £608, This included a £75 compliance fee already ?

 

In this case, my original advice is correct. If no controlled goods agreement has been signed they cannot take goods for sale or force entry, so the £110 sale fee cannot be charged.

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES TO COLD CALLERS PROMISING TO WRITE OFF YOUR DEBTS

DO NOT PAY UPFRONT FEES FOR COSTLY TELEPHONE CONSULTATIONS WITH SO CALLED "EXPERTS" THEY INVARIABLY ARE NOTHING OF THE SORT

BEWARE OF QUICK FIX DEBT SOLUTIONS, IF IT LOOKS LIKE IT IS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT INVARIABLY IS

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I paid the 75 compliance fee earlier on in the process but forgot to ring back up and set up a direct debit with them for paying off the rest. As far as the councils concerned, they say I owe them 175.47 still so I guess Equita's total must include whats left of their fees and they must have taken some of my payments already made to cover their fees too. I just don't really want the whole thing hanging around any longer than it has to but I don't see what I can do if i can't get in contact with anyone and I can't afford to keep up the original payment plan :sad:

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Yeah it was made at the enforcement stage which I accepted. I never saw a bailiff, I got one of their enforcement notices through the door, panicked and rang them to organise a plan. I was originally going to go for 200 a month but the bailiff insisted on 250.

 

They definitely haven't been into my flat, I definitely haven't signed a controlled goods agreement although the bailiff that rang me on the 8th said that there would be a fee of 110 pounds when he arrived at my flat which I don't see how he can charge.

 

Original debt was 608.26, plus Equita fees brought it up to 843.26. I paid 100 straight away and another 2 lots of 250 before i lost my job so according to Equita I still owe 243.26

 

The reason for asking for background information was to ascertain whether or not a Controlled Goods Agreement had been signed. If so, you could have been at risk of incurring a £110 'sale' stage fee. As no such agreement has been made (and you do not have a motor vehicle) then there can be no further fees applied. Nonetheless, yours is a VERY interesting scenario as it addresses a problem that we do not see on the forum very often but no doubt does happen in many cases.

 

When the payment arrangement was made, the debt stood at £843. You have so far paid £600. Under the 2014 fees regulations, the Compliance fee of £75 must be deducted first and the balance (of £525) should then be distributed on a 'pro rata' basis. Roughly speaking, 60% (£315) should be transferred to the council to be allocated towards your debt of £608.26 and 40% (£210) should be allocated towards the balance of bailiff fees. Using this calculation, it can be seen that from your payment of £600, Equita should have deducted the Compliance fee of £75 and a further sum of £210. In effect, they have nearly collected all of the fees due to them. The 'pro rata' distribution may vary slightly depending on the relevant contract between the council and Equita.

 

Equita now two problems to face:

 

Unless they can 'take control of goods' they cannot charge any more fees.

 

The repayment proposal that you would like to make is just £20 per month. As there is still a debt of £243.26, Equita would not want to accept such a low figure as it would mean that your account will not be paid off for approx 10 months. However, if they don't accept the proposal, their only option is to return the debt back to the council. However, if they do this......all balance fees must be removed. They would NOT want this to happen.

 

Accordingly, you have the 'upper hand' (so to speak)...and it is certainly an unusual position to be in.

 

PS: Is there any possibility of you being able to increase your payment proposal to £50 per month? I would have thought that Equita would be more likely to accept this figure.

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The issue I have with upping repayments from 20 quid is that I've lost my job and been moved onto Universal Credit. I haven't been officially told how much I'm going to receive but I've estimated to to be around 440 under my circumstances. So 440: I have to spend 300 on rent, 44 on this years council tax (with reduction), 35 on my phone bill (don't have a landline, relying on this for employers to contact me on). This leaves me with about 61 quid a month (going entirely on what I've calculated my entitlement to be) to sort out my household bills and food for myself :| The most I'm going to be able to give Equita while I'm unemployed is 20 quid a month and even that's a push. Once I'm working again though I'm more than happy to pay off whatever's left in full, it's just making do until I'm employed again

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£61 a month is hardly enough to pay bill let alone feed your self.

so how would you survive on £41? That is just over £1.30 a day

 

I think your best option is to go back to the council, They can hardly expect you too live on the above amount,

and may be you could get a discretionary payment for CT

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The council's been pretty good with this years's council tax to be fair to them. Discretionary council tax depends on whether or not there's money left for it in their budget I think so I'll have a look into that. I suspect Equita aren't going to be as understanding about it as most people are. If I could get them to refer it back to the council then I might be able to negotiate something with the council even if it's just token payments, but since I can't get anyone to talk to me from Equita about anything and the council keep sending me back to them I seem to be a bit lost as for what to do :noidea:

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Which Council are you dealing with? The reason for asking is that a lot of Councils have hived off their back office functions to a private company such as Capita who also happen to own 2 bailiff firms, one of which is Equita. If this is the case then it could well be you have never spoken to a Council employee. 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

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Interesting that Equita are attempting to ally the Sales Fee with no CGA. As to Equita, surely this should now be with their Welfare Department?, and possibly an attachment to benefit once UC in payment.

We could do with some help from you.

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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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I'd definitely remember if I'd signed a controlled goods act with them...Also, there's nothing in my flat that would cover the levy anyway. The kitchen appliances can't be seized so far as I'm aware and all the furnishings are rented from the landlord. The only thing of value I own is my Macbook which belongs to the place I used to work for until I've paid it off fully (I have a copy of the agreement too). So unless they're going to try and claim I've signed something when I haven't then I don't see how they're trying to charge the sales fee

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Newcastle City Council, what do I do with their answers if they get back to me?

 

Post them up here, you should also ask Equita for a breakdown of all the fees they have charged to date including dates, amounts and the reason for the charge. Again you should be asking them for details of all payments made to them including dates & amounts. These are details you are entitled to and are not the grounds for a Subject Access Request and does not incur a fee of £10. Again when you have them post them up.

 

Equita had form prior to April 2014 of pre-loading all fees and when questioned said they were potential fees that may be charged - of course we will never know how many folks never questioned them and just paid up. Since the new regs came in they have been the most clueless company believing the new Regs don't apply to them. Details are being collated of any/all transgressions they make in hope a complaint may be made to the MOJ.

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I'd definitely remember if I'd signed a controlled goods act with them...Also, there's nothing in my flat that would cover the levy anyway. The kitchen appliances can't be seized so far as I'm aware and all the furnishings are rented from the landlord.

 

The only thing of value I own is my Macbook which belongs to the place I used to work for until I've paid it off fully (I have a copy of the agreement too). So unless they're going to try and claim I've signed something when I haven't then I don't see how they're trying to charge the sales fee

 

As outlined above, they cannot charge the sale fee. Also, unless you were considering allowing the bailiff into your home (not to be recommended) the bailiff will either have to return the debt back to the council or accept your payment proposal. He really has no other option.

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UPDATE:

 

So, Equita rang me this morning. They opened with asking me to pay in full, to which I obviously replied that I'd been trying to get in contact with them to discuss the fact that I have 0 income util I'm actually awarded anything. The guy on the phone said that since my last payment had been missed then next they'd be attending my flat with a view to remove goods. I double checked that they don't have a CGA which he confirmed they didn't. He basically ignored me when I told him that the reason my payment had been missed is that when I ran Equita to tell them I'd lost my job and unless I rearranged my payment plan then I would default, is that Equita told me my account was closed so I didn't chase it up and check it. He also didn't seem to listen when I told him that the reason Equita's payment had failed was that I had lost my job and it wasn't a case of WON'T pay, at the minute I'm genuinely a CAN'T pay. I offered to make a payment plan again on a much lower amount and he said they wouldn't be accepting anything at this stage.

 

So, since Equita are dead set on coming over to attempt to seize goods, I was wondering:

  • Since I've already been charged and enforcement fee before I made the original payment plan, can they charge me for that again?
  • Shouldn't I count as a vulnerable person at the minute since I'm completely out of work and relying on the Government?
  • What happens if I don't let them into my flat when they turn up? I dont have a car outside so no worries there
  • What can I do to try and pay this off if Equita are point-blank refusin to make a plan with me?
  • Finally, I'm moving out of this flat at the end of June. My tenancy's up then and I'll be moving elsewhere. What then?

 

Just wanting to be prepared when they show up really

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I have previously answered most of your above questions.

 

As I have said a few times now, no additional fees can be charged.

 

Have you tried making payments (of for instance £20) online to Equita?

 

I would suggest that instead of speaking with the company that you outline your payment proposal in writing and send a copy to the council. You may wish to advise that if Equita are unwilling to accept your payments that they will leave you with no other option other than to pay the money to the council instead. This usually works.

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I've found a list of my payments to the council online via the bailiff. 432.79 has been passed to the council which leaves me owing them 175.47. Because I paid their compliance fee straight off the bat, looking at what they've passed onto the council out of my original payments, I only owe Equita about 60 quid.

 

If I write to/email the Council and Equita, who should I be trying to send my proposal to?

Edited by MooCoo
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If I write to/email the Council and Equita, who should I be trying to send my proposal to?

 

I have already answered this question as well.

 

The letter should be addressed to Equita and copied to the council. The reason for copying the letter to the council is to demonstrate to them that you are not refusing to pay and that it is Equita who are hampering your efforts to pay.

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You should now engage your local Councillor(s) telling them that Equita refuse to discuss a reasonable plan for yourself and seem intent on visiting just to garner fees for themselves. Also inform them that as Equita do not have a CGA & you will not be allowing them access to your home under any circumstances. You therefore refuse to have anything to do with them and will be putting aside £XX per week/month to pay the Council as a lump sum, once the debt is returned to them.

 

If Equita were to make any further contact then if it were me I would be ignoring them.

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I've found the three councillors for my ward. Is it worth emailing all 3 the same thing? From what you say, I should be going along the lines of explaining what happened to my payment plan, saying that I've tried to contact them and explain and negotiate a new payment plan based on my current finances. Since Equita have refused to engage in any meaningful discussion but seem hell-bent on removing my goods then I'm refusing to have any further dealings with them?

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I would suggest initial contact be made by phone. I'm also a believer that your representative is contactable 7 days per week up until approx 9pm. If any refuse or reluctant then go staright over their head to their Party Leader.

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