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Hi guys,

 

I hope someone can help. I've checked the forums but my situation is different.

 

I bought a property on 14th March 2017. There were tenants already living there until 31st August 2017.

 

They didn't pay me any rent and in the end I had to give them a section 8 notice to evict them.

 

At this time, I was living with my parents.

 

I moved in 2nd September.

 

I got a letter from the Council saying I owe them £600 for "long term empty". I phoned them and told them there were tenants living there up until 31st August, and I gave them the name of the person, and informed them I had no idea where they had moved to.

 

They requested I send proof that I had moved into the property on 2nd September 2017, in the form of energy letters or something. I sent this by email the same day as the telephone conversation.

 

I then received a letter on 31st October 2017, saying I no longer owe them £600, but I now owe them £190, for the period of 9th July to 31st August. I phoned and told them I sent in evidence that I moved into the property on 2nd September, so I have no idea where they plucked this 9th July 2017 date from. They said they have my email, but it's been backlogged, and hasn't been checked yet.

 

I then received a "1st reminder" letter on 6th December 2017, again asking for the £190. I phoned them again, and same story, she said my email hasn't been read, and not to worry about anything.

 

Now today, 12th January 2018, I received a Magistrates Court Summons to pay off the £190, plus £18 for "costs". It does state "You are therefore summoned to appear before the Magistrates' Court at [address] on Thursday 1st February 2018 at [time] unless the said sum(s) (or balance) be paid, before the day of the hearing. Failure to pay in full will result in a Liability Order being requested at the hearing."

 

Now, the last conversation I had with the council tax department was that my email had not been read, so they hadn't yet checked my evidence, and told me not to worry.

 

Another point, I received a "1st reminder", but nothing after that.

 

During the date mentioned relating to the fine, 9th July 2017 - 31st August 2017, there were people living at the address, and I told the council tax department over the phone on more than 1 occasion.

 

During the date mentioned relating to the fine, 9th July 2017 - 31st August 2017, I was living with my parents, and was on their council tax record which was up-to-date.

 

During the date mentioned relating to the fine, 9th July 2017 - 31st August 2017, I was on ESA benefit, so the council tax for the duration should have been around £60 anyway, and not £190.

 

So now I've been summoned to court. What are my options?

 

I was talking to a friend who suggested the best route is to pay off the £218 before the court hearing to get them off my back, and then sue the council in small claims court for incorrectly charging me council tax, and then having to make payment because of being summoned to court, and also sue the council for causing stress and anxiety.

 

He said it's important for me to pay off the fee firstly, because I have a suspended 8 week prison sentence, and though unlikely, the court could activate a previous suspended prison sentence.

 

If I was to follow the route of paying them off, then suing the council in small claims court, how do I go about this? Do I need to get a solicitor? I assume I would get legal aid. Or do I just write to them explaining what happened? Or should I go through the financial ombudsman? I don't really have surplus cash to pay solicitors initial fees, etc.

 

I currently am on JSA, but have been signed off by my doctor with depression from 2nd January 2018, for a month. I am taking medication, and having counselling help. This issue has added to my depression.

 

My first step is to go to the Council Tax department on Monday morning, and ask them the questions I mentioned; why I didn't at least get a "2nd reminder", why I didn't get any letter after my email had been read and evidence had been checked, if at all they have yet, why they didn't take into consideration I was on ESA, and why they didn't check as I had asked, that I was named on the council tax will whilst living at my parents, etc.

 

So the reason for this post is to get opinions of what I should do. Any help will be very much appreciated.

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Go to the hearing with all your evidence. The councils legal may or may not be there, if they are DO NOT enter any conversation with them.

Do not tell anyone your name apart from the court usher.

The council may wellset a table up and ask people for their names so they can enter into dialog with them.

( get them to pay)

 

The court process is basically a job lot rubber stamping exercise if your a non attendee.

 

You want your day in court.

Take all your evidence and go infront of the judge

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