If you have fallen into council tax arrears, there are steps you can take to get back on track. The first step is to make contact with your local authority. They may be able to help you arrange a payment plan. They can also try to recover money from your wages or benefits. You should contact the Citizens Advice Bureau for free debt advice if you have any questions.
You should work out how much you can afford to pay each month. Once you have worked this out, contact the council and ask for a suitable repayment plan. Be sure to let them know any income changes and how you are affected by these. It is often possible to spread the cost over a period of 12 months. If this does not suit you, you can ask to be paid in instalments.
You should be aware that if you do not pay the full amount in time, the council can issue a summons. The summons will tell you what date and location for the court hearing and will include any costs. However, you do not have to attend the hearing.
Then you will be given fourteen days to pay the bill. If you do not pay within this period, you will lose the right to pay by instalments. This will then mean that you must pay the full amount in one go.
If you fail to pay the full amount, you will receive another reminder from the council. They can then apply to the magistrates’ court for a liability order. This means that the council has the power to seize your property to recover the debt.
If you have a history of missing payments, the council can send a bailiff to your home to try to retrieve the debt. Usually, the bailiff will leave a note advising you that the account is in arrears. Depending on the severity of the debt, your property may be seized. Even if the property is not seized, you may be forced to pay the bailiff’s costs.
There are two other options if you cannot pay the full bill: a liability order or a Summary Warrant. A liability order means that the council can pursue your debt for up to six years. During this time, you can write off some of the debt.
Alternatively, the council can apply to the county court for a legal charge. This means that your debt is secured against your home. This can put your home at risk, and you can have to pay for additional court fees. However, if you can prove that you are unable to pay the entire amount, the council may agree to a reduction.
In some cases, the local authority can even deduct the amount of unpaid council tax from your wages or benefits. However, you can avoid these actions if you can explain your situation to the local councillor. They can then offer you support and work out a suitable repayment plan for you.
How to Get Back on Track If You Fall Into Council Tax Arrears was first seen on Help with My Debt