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Threat of bailiff visit without written notifcation?


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I had some problems with council tax last year which arose from misunderstandings about when to start paying after being a student, and a change of address (i thought the landlord had informed the council i'd moved, they hadn't). Lambeth council caught up with me at the beginning of June this year, i was surprised because i had no idea i was in arrears, but duly paid what i owed plus court costs. At that time, Lambeth assured me the case hadn't been passed to bailiffs.

 

However, yesterday (19/07/07) i had a call out of the blue from Equita, saying i owed £87 in fees and that unless i paid that day, a bailiff would call today and the charge would increase to £164. I've had no written correspondence from Equita, although they claim to have sent 18 letters. I eventually spoke to somebody who admitted that only 1 of these had been to my current address, which the council had given them in June, but i didn't receive it.

 

I asked for the bailiff visit to be postponed in the light that i'd had no written correspondence, and wasn't prepared to pay money over the phone to a company i had no knowledge about, but they refused.

 

After a shocking few hours of trying to ascertain who Equita were, and whether Lambeth had actually passed them my case, I was told again that i had to pay there and then or face further fees, so i did.

 

I am totally appalled by this. I'm sure it can't be legal to just demand money when i haven't received anything in writing. What can i do about this? I have asked for a written statement to be sent, and intend to write to Lambeth, Equita and trading standards, but i'm not entirely sure what rules Equita may have breached, and whether i can claim anything back. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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