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    • I feel that people are focusing too much on the OPs property being a council house and putting responsibility on the council to resolve this.   imagine for a moment that the OPs house is privately owned, now what powers would they have to take action on the trees? Pretty much none without taking the tree owner to court right. Well as the trees are privately owned, that is the same power that the council have right now.   the information with the £375 will be inline with high hedges legislation as this will be the only power the council will have and it is common for there to be a charge for this.   this is not a social housing issue, but a neighbor dispute with a private homeowner.   i used to work as a tree officer for a local authority and from experience have seen that people’s idea of dangerous and what is actually dangerous are two different issues. A councils power to enforce tree works are also limited and will usually only be where a private tree poses a risk to the highway, not to another property as that is a civil matter (even where the council own the 2nd property).    With regards to risk to underground pipes, this is something you will be unlikely to successfully argue as various studies have found that unless a tree is planted on top of the pipe and crush it, the roots will not cause damage, but rather only enter through already damaged areas as they are opportunistic, any tree roots in drains are usually a secondary issue where a pipe had existing damage and to resolve it will require a permanent repair to the pipe to prevent recurrence.   the only options i see here are to calculate the height allowed under high hedges legislation (it varies depending on what direction the property faces , the location of hedges etc) and try to enforce that which will involve the fee. Otherwise there is little you can do as the private homeowner has a right to have trees in their garden although they may be liable if they were to cause damage to your property (such as a shed) or the councils property in the future.
    • Served on 16 Feb.   On reviewing the MCOL website today for an updated, I noticed that 1) Hermes has aknowledged the claim, but not yet filed a defence, and 2) that I there was a glitch / error on the form. Essentially, it looks like I had accidentally left the "I will send detailed particulars of claim" box ticke (I thought I had unticked it), with the result that the claim section has been truncated, and some extra text has automatcially been added - in red below):   "...Claimant seeks £XXX, plus I will provide the defendant with separate detailed particulars within 14 days after service of the claim form. The claimant claims interest under section 69 of the County Courts Act 1984 at the rate of..."   This is obviously not ideal. Is it better to try to amend the claim somehow, or to just submit a brief POC that a) clarifies that I am seeking £XXX plus costs (which was automatically truncated), and b) sets out my calculation of the £XXX?  
    • Hi   It amazes me how they pass the buck as they don't want to deal with a private homeowner but if the shoe was on the other foot they would be hammering down on you for breach of tenancy.   As this is council housing you need to make a Formal Complaint in writing to the Council Housing about this (as a social housing landlord they have a complaints process they have to follow). you need to exhaust their complaints process. Make sure and title your letter Formal Complaint.   From what you have posted this tree is not just a nuisance but also a Health & Safety risk:   1. The tree being overgrown is now a danger to the occupants/Guest/Visitors to your property   2. The tree has overgrown into the Council Housings Boundaries your property causing damage/endangerment to the occupants/guest/visitors.   3. As the roots of the tree are also overgrown into your property you have concerns that these may be causing/damaging to any underground pipework that may be within the boundray of the property.   4. So far the Councils actions have been to treat their Council Housing tenant as a third class citizen with a private homeowner aloud to cause endangerment/possible damage due to these overgrown trees which are encroaching on your council house property/bounderies.   You also require clarification why you were sent the Healthy Neighbourhood Information which states I have to pay £375 to make a complaint. (make sure and attach a copy of the response that states this cost)   You also require copies of the following:   1. Complaints Policy (not the leaflet) 2. Customer Service Standard (not the leaflet) 3. Health & Safety Policy (not the leaflet) 4. Public Liability Insurance Policy. (not the leaflet) 5. Clarification from you if their is any underground pipeworks running through the bounderies within the garden area (you should have full knowledge of this it being your property/plans) 6. Compensation Policy (not the leaaflet) 7. Equality & Diversity Policy (not the leaflet)   When you get the above policies sit with a pen/pencil/highlighter and take you time reading them and just think to yourself 'DID THEY DO THAT' if not mark it then leave it for a while then do the same again this way you can basically throw/write back stating the haven't followed x policy with which part of that policy and your reason. (you are building evidence to use against them using their own policies. I would also like to refer you to The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 1976: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1976/57/part/I/crossheading/dangerous-trees-and-excavations     You need to remember yes it is the Council but the Council Housing is a separate entity and is a Registered Social Landlord (RSL)   Is the Council Housing classed as a registered Charity? (what is their registration number whether charity or RSL?)   Also have a wee look at this CAG link:     
    • @rocky_sharma   Fame at last!!   Dunno how much help it would be in your case, but I could try digging out the txt of my defence if you think it might be relevant to your defence. We might hafta do this via PM, then e-mail though if ya wanna go down that route.   Good luck with yours anyway mate.
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mollywobbles

Council Tax Court Summons - Account is paid up to date and has never been in arrears!

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The title sums it up in a nutshell.

 

I pay monthly by standing order and have done so since moving into this house a year ago.

 

I have received, over the last few months, two text messages and two letters asserting that my account is in arrears and that if I don't respond I will become liable for the whole years bill etc etc. My account is not in arrears. I have bank statements which show the sums being transferred to the council in question every month.

 

I have emailed the head of revenue and benefits to tell him to check whatever error is causing this on his system and to point out how unacceptable it is to send people threatening letters in error.

 

I attached copies of my bank statement showing the payments by way of proof. I can well imagine there are some people who would be intimidated or caused undue stress by the type of things they've sent. I copied in my councillor, who acknowledged the message. No response yet from the recipient.

 

Today I have received a court summons for 23rd of May on account of my non-payment.

 

Obviously I am not overly concerned, as I know I have paid and can prove I have paid. What I would like to know is how best to act now? I have let the councillor know what has happened and sought further advice from him

 

. I am not against attending the court date if there is anything to be gained by that for me. The outcome I am seeking is an acknowledgment of the errors on the part of the council and a stop being put to the harassment via text message and letter which has now been going on for some months.

 

Does anyone have some advice for how best to proceed?

Edited by dx100uk
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Certainly you should send off an SAR in order to find out what has happened. We have been advising people in most instances to wait until 25 May – but I think you should probably send your one off now.

 

I should write to the council formally referring to the summons, repeating exactly what the situation is with the evidence that you have and tell them that you now want a formal complaint to begin to the Local Authority Ombudsman. Follow this up hard and make sure you get a response. Although you won't have your final response before the court date, it will be helpful to show the court that it is subject to a formal challenge internally and that you are disappointed that the council have acted in such a reckless and precipitative way and that they are clearly abusing the system and causing expense and inconvenience to you as well as distress – and expense and inconvenience to the court.

 

When you go to court, I can imagine that the council may well try to withdraw the case. If I were you I would try to insist that it continues and you asked the court to award you costs. Even a symbolic £5 against the council is very significant.

 

Additionally, I would inform the council that you are beginning a complaint to the ICO for the inaccurate processing of your data. If you are sure of your ground then you should begin the complaint to the ICO now. If you are unsure then you should wait until the result of the SAR and then begin the complaint.

 

You can begin the complaint to the ICO by telephone and then follow up by email. I suggest that you do that and get at least an acknowledgement from the ICO. Include that in the complaint to the Local Authority Ombudsman and also provided to the court as well.


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On what day of the month are you paying? Do you have an agreement with the Council to pay on this particular date?


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The key question to this is

- What date have you been paying and how does this compare to the amount and date specified on the demand notice ?

 

The easiest way is to simply ask the council when the payment has been received - there should be no need to do a SAR to get that information unless the council refuse to provide it.

 

In order for a summons to have been there must have been at least one reminder notice issued. Each council will operate slightly differently in respect to dates of when reminder notices are sent but the statutory basis for the reminder is to give 7 days to pay the missing instalment followed by a further 7 days to pay the full balance (if the instalment is not paid).

 

If the reminder is not complied with a court summons would be the next step. In some cases a final notice may be issued, this gives only 7 days to pay in full or a summons would be issued.

 

From over a decade of working in council tax the two most common issues which cause a summons to be issued when payments are being made is either

a) the payment is not reaching the council by the due date or

b) the payment is being made on the wrong reference number.

 

One common belief has always been that as long as it's paid by the end of the month then it's fine, it's not and many who do this wonder why a summons arrives.

 

In respect of the summons providing the council can demonstrate that payment was not received as shown on the demand notice and the reminder was not paid as required then the court cannot refuse to grant the liability order

- they don't have the power to take in to account any reasoning as to why payment was late, if that is the case.

 

The court's power is simply to compare what was paid against the notices that were sent (and that the notices were issued correctly) when considering the liability order. The best the court can do is to ask the council if they wish to have the application withdrawn if everything has been done correctly.

Edited by dx100uk
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Extracted from the letter to the person named on the notices sent to me:

 

"You sent the new bill for 2018-19 dated 20th March 2018 with the first payment due on 6th April 2018. The bill acknowledged that the amount outstanding from last year's bill is £3.11.

You received a payment of £134 from me on 3rd April, three days early. This covered the outstanding sum above and the first payment.

 

On the date of your letter, April 17th, I had paid approximately 8% of my yearly bill. 11 days of the council tax year had passed, in percentage terms that is approximately 3% of the year."

 

The summons arrived yesterday 5th May. I have (on the 3rd May) paid this month's instalment.

 

To my knowledge, there is no processing time. My bank uses the 'faster payments' system, which to my understanding means they are received that day.

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Faster payments doesn't always go through the same day. I had one the other day (first time ever) that took until the next day to clear - the faster payment system apparently has a caveat that payments usually clear quickly but may take longer.

 

The % paid is immaterial to council tax collection - the only point that is relevant to legislation is what was paid and when.

 

How much was the instalment shown for 6th April on the demand notice ?

 

One other point that catches people is that some councils change the reference number each year. Have you by any chance paid using a previous reference number ?

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Well if they have changed the reference number and not made that clear, then there could be an error!

 

However, I have been paying council tax in this area since 2005 and the only times I've changed any reference numbers is when I've moved house.

 

If they have decided to change the reference numbers for a reason pertinent only to them, they should really have made that clear.

 

I will find the bill for the 2018-19 year and see if this is hidden anywhere, because it certainly wasn't anywhere obvious.

 

If that was the case, why would the council not have refunded the money which they would, I assume, consider paid to them in error?

 

The first payment for the year was due on April 6th and I paid it on April 3rd. I paid the sum for the first calendar month of 2018-19 and the outstanding £3. The first reminder was sent on April 17th.

 

My explication of percentages paid was merely an underlining of the point for the person who sent the letter asserting that my account was in arrears that my account has at no point been in arrears.

Edited by dx100uk
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The reference number should be shown at the top of the demand notice- some change them yearly, some don't.

 

Having used the most common council tax system for a decade there are certainly 'issues' it has which can sometimes cause these sorts of problems.

 

How much was the amount that was due for the 18/19 instalment on 6 April 18 ? Did you by any chance pay both amounts as one combined payment ?

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£131 was the amount due for April 6th, £3 outstanding, I paid £134. They were listed on the same bill. What good reason would I have for paying two separate payments of £3 and £131?

 

If what you say is true, it is not OK that councils continue to use systems that are not fit for purpose.

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£131 was the amount due for April 6th, £3 outstanding, I paid £134. They were listed on the same bill. What good reason would I have for paying two separate payments of £3 and £131?

 

What good reason would I have for paying two separate payments of £3 and £131?

You'd be surprised how many people would do it that way.

 

One - if it was paid together and the previous balance was cleared fine then you know they received the £131 OK as well.

Two - Without going in to the technical details, if they used the Northgate system then it has, in certain cases, got a problem with payments and splitting then between years automatically (sometimes it doesn't do do correctly in a small number of cases).

 

The first reminder was sent on April 17th.

As of that reminder how much did it say you needed to pay within the 7 days ?

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