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Does anyone have experience of Council Tax problems and threat of bailiffs

Discussion in 'Personal' started by May2, Jan 6, 2016.

  1. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    I will try to make this as concise as possible.
    My daughter lives in a lovely shared rental property, sharing with a couple who are PHD students and another single working tenant. Prior to her moving in in the summer the house had a shared tenancy contract with the owner/landlord. Then when the two previous tenants moved out leaving the couple, the landlord agreed that the couple could then sublet the other rooms, saving the owner/landlord the bother of finding new tenants and them being able to find other people they could choose to live with. This obviously changed the tenancy and so my daughter has a sublet tenancy agreement with this couple(who are also renting, not the owner) . When my daughter initially moved in she filled in an online form to inform the council she had moved in and to pay Council Tax at 25% discount as at that time she was the only employed resident. 3 months later when another employed person moved in they also filled in the same form for Council Tax online. Both just received an automated response and have never heard anything further so have not paid anything. The couple , the students had also informed the Council they were students and so not liable to Council tax.

    Over a period my daughter believes the male of the couple received a letter/ letters saying he owed X amount of Council Tax, which she believes he ignored as he thought he was not liable to any. My daughter has been getting concerned that she has not paid any and it is mounting up (expensive property too) She had phoned and they had told her she was not responsible for his bill and that they would send her a corrected bill. She asked that they confirm this by email but they said they couldn't. She has heard nothing more nor has the other housemate who is waiting to pay.
    During this time the couple have gone overseas for several months doing research. A letter arrived just before Christmas addressed to the male of this couple and was obviously from the envelope, an important Council letter. My daughter and the other resident opened this and found it to be A Council Tax Notice of Liability demanding that this other male pay the full Council Tax.
    Not wanting to worry the chap now out in Asia, the other resident telephoned the office and was told not to worry, the chap didn't need to pay and that they would send out corrected bills to the two residents that should be paying.This was about two weeks or so before Christmas. Having heard nothing again my daughter went into the Council offices this week and spoke at length with two people. They told her that as she is a sublet tenant it falls on her 'landlord' ie the male of this couple, to collect the money from her and the other tenant and pay them irrespective of whether he actually needs to pay himself or not. This was never explained to any of them before and I suppose the chap was just a bit naïve at now being a landlord if this is now correct. I have told my daughter to email them again and get this in writing.

    The Notice of Liability states a rolling programme of increasing fines for non payment and I guess another month has already gone by. She has only now informed the chap in Asia. The people at the office informed her that the bailiffs may be sent in to repossess his belongings so what I am wondering does anyone know how soon bailiffs are sent. Does it just vary where you live? And how do they know what belongs to him in a shared part furnished house, where most stuff belongs to the owner. Do they tell you when they are coming? To be honest I can't see that there is anything to recover from him as he will have his computer and camera equipment with him and generally I think there is only some clothes and books and pictures on the wall left there.

    Sorry this is so long but how ever old your kids are, you still get involved in their problems
  2. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Poor girl!

    Someone else will arrive to give you proper advice but I don't think your daughter needs to worry too much.

    Let the Council know when she's likely to be at work and unable to let the bailiffs in. She ought to try to be there but what about the owner? The owners won't want their stuff to be removed. I'm sure they'd appreciate a heads-up. As long as the rent is paid then I don't suppose they'll be too bothered but, if there's a risk of any of their possessions being carted off, they ought to know.
  3. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Yes, I have. I come across it regularly through CA.

    She needs to contact CA as a matter of urgency and seek their support.

    Bailiffs cannot be sent in unless a warrant has been obtained following a judgment from the magistrates Court. Failute to pay CT is a criminal offence and can result in a prison sentence. If convicted of a failure to pay CT, your daughter will have a crimin al record whoich may affact future employment.

    The threats cannot be carried out without a judgment against your daughter and warrant for possession but she MUST seek early assistance with this NOW!! She would first be summonsed and able to present a defence, if she is liable to pay CT.

    Look on the CA website for information about the powers of bailiffs. In a CT recovery, they will instruct High Court Enforcement Officers, who have more powers of entry than County Court bailiffs.

  4. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Sorry. Disregard everything I said. I was assuming she couldn't be personally liable and the Council weren't acting against your daughter.

    Ignore me.
  5. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    My son failed to pay CT years ago and landed in a lot of bother with a court judgement against him that affected his credit rating mightily. People don't understand the consequences of letting it go. I don't mean your daughter May2, it sounds like she has really tried to do things right. Follow GL's advice - she knows what's what.
  6. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    @GLsghost you have made it sound very worrying. I now wonder if she has done the wrong thing. After speaking to the people in the office yesterday she emailed the chap in Asia her 'landlord' and immediately transferred the amount she believes she owes into his account so that he could pay it. She does trust him even though I know he has just ignored this so far. His partner returns to the house next week even though he will be away a few more months. Even though all the residents have informed the Council tax office of their situations, those liable to pay etc they have never heard anything back and both those who should pay filled in the forms online so is it really still their fault. The Council only have the chap who is in Asia down as liable for it at the moment. My daughter has not received any demands in her own name. This is part of the problem she has received nothing in writing.
    Would it be a good idea for her to either email or write in a letter her full side of the situation, noting times she filled in forms, phone calls and visits to office made?
  7. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    Thanks so far for the advice. Forgot to mention that when she went in to the office they said they had no record on their file of either of the tenants liable to pay, having filled in their online forms. So despite filling in forms and speaking on the telephone to both these tenants they couldn't seem to find any record of it.
  8. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    She should take all this to her local CA and ask them to either tell her what to do or act for her. I cannot give specific advice on this as I am not privy to all the facts and cannot advise on this forum. CA can and will help at no charge.

    If she is personally liable to pay, of necessary they can help negotiate an installment plan.

    She MUST take this seriously. People often don't realise how serious the consequences of non payment of CT can be, but it sounds like there is still time to sort this problem. Xx
    monicabilongame likes this.
  9. cissy3

    cissy3 Star commenter

    What a blinkin' mess for your daughter @May2 when she has done nothing wrong.

    No advice to add, just wanted to sympathise. ( GLsghost is a boon to these forums)
    monicabilongame likes this.
  10. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    TY @cissy3 !

    It may be that the OP's daughter is not personally liable. The trouble is, that I cannot possibly say, without seeing all the paperwork and knowing all the facts and the consequences of doing nothing could be very serious.

    I am erring on the side of caution, knowing that, if she is liable and a Notice of Liability has already been issued in her name (in the Magistrates Court), she needs to act very quickly.

    Hence sending her off to Citizens Advice as a matter of urgency. They can look at all the paperwork, consider the circumstances and advise properly.
    cissy3 likes this.
  11. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Council Tax is a tax on the property, not the inhabitants. The Poll tax, based on each liable person was soon abolished under Thatcher.
    When the household (family of joint tenants) are all students, no Council Tax accrues on the property.

    When every tenant has their own tenancy agreement with the landlord, a Council Tax liability will accrue to each tenant separately and be disregarded if the tenant is a student or receiving means-tested benefits.

    Where a joint tenancy has one or more students/unemployed people and others who are working, the council will review the bill that accrues to the household and the bill is sent to the person who owns the property or the person who rents the property.
    It seems to me that the couple whose names are on the tenancy agreement were the ones who should have notified the Council when other people joined the household. The Council Tax bill would then be reassessed in the light of there being working people at the address. the bill would go to the person/s on the tenancy agreement.
    In some instances (my rental property, for instance, which has students and working people in residence) they agreed to ALL share the discounted Council Tax bill.
    In your daughter's case, it would have helped had her sub-letting arrangement specified if her rent was inclusive or exclusive of Council Tax. If exclusive of Council Tax, it should have specified if every adult would pay a share of the bill or if only those not in receipt of benefits and not students would have to pay the bill.
    GLsghost likes this.
  12. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Best of luck to May2's daughter.

    I'd blame the late & unlamented Mrs Thatcher for this - she wanted to tax people rather than property, and championed the poll tax. Council tax was the wheeze to save her face when the poll tax collapsed- tax property but link it to people. Terrible system.
  13. May2

    May2 Established commenter

  14. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    Sorry not quite sure what happened there it looks like it is all a quote. Hope anyone who is reading can see all my new bit.
  15. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Bump to clear the first page

    Best wishes to all who survived this early morning flood!

  16. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    To anyone who followed my saga of Council Tax yesterday, there looks like some light at the end of the tunnel. The couple overseas telephoned the tax office today and now have a letter stating that there was actually an error in that it should not just be the male of the couple liable, but both of them are responsible for collecting the tax from the working residents. Due to their error they have now cancelled any action against him and put it back to billing. They are actually both returning home sometime next week and have arranged a meeting to discuss it further at the council tax office.
    So I think my daughter can sleep easy without fear of bailiffs descending ,at the moment.

    Thanks for everyone's support particularly GLg
    GLsghost and cissy3 like this.
  17. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Minefield. Thanks for updating and best wishes to your daughter.
    cissy3 likes this.
  18. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    You're welcome @May2 . Glad it's all being sorted.

    Make sure your daughter keeps tabs on it, though, to make sure that it really is being resolved properly. In my experience, local councils are usually more-than reasonable about resolving CT issues, as long as the parties keep communicating. They only resort to court action if they cannot get a response any other way.
  19. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    BUMP to clear front page of Spammers

  20. Lascarina

    Lascarina Star commenter

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