What happens if I don't
pay my council tax?
Each year we issue you with a council tax
bill which tells you how much you need to pay and when. This is
known as your instalment plan.
You need to pay your council tax on, or
before, the due dates shown on your annual bill or most recent
If you’re struggling to pay your council
tax, then please let us know as soon as you can and we might be
able to help you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call us on (01902) 696669. If you’re on a low income
you might also be able to get extra help through Council Tax Support.
If you don’t pay enough, pay late or miss
an instalment completely, you will get a reminder notice giving you
seven working days to pay the missing amount. If you bring your
account up to date, then we won’t need to take any further
What happens if I
don't pay the amount as stated on the reminder notice?
You need to pay the amount stated on the
reminder within 7 days so that your account is up to
We only issue two reminders in each financial year so if you don’t
keep your account up to date or you are consistently late
with your payments a Final reminder notice could be issued
which would take away your right to pay your bill in
instalments. You would then be asked to pay the whole of the
If you still don’t pay then you could end up in court.
What happens next?
Why have I been sent a summons?
If you have failed to make the payments
requested on the final reminder notice our only option is to issue
a Magistrates' Court summons advising you how much we’re looking to
recover from you.
This will include an extra £48.00 summons
Even at this stage, it’s not too late to
pay your remaining balance plus the £48.00 summons costs which
should be received by the council before the court
date. This will stop any further court action.
What happens if I
don't pay the amount stated on the summons?
If you’re struggling to pay the full amount
before the court date, get in touch with us straightaway, we may be
able to help.
If you email us at email@example.com or
call us on (01902) 696669 then we may be able to agree a
special payment arrangement for you.
Court proceedings are dealt with by the
Magistrates' Court which means your credit rating won’t be
Do I have
to go to court?
You don’t have to be at
court - but the magistrates will still hear your case
whether you’re there or not. The court can’t deal with
benefits issues or disputes over liability, discounts or
At the court hearing we’ll ask the
magistrates to issue a Liability Order against you – which will
cost you a further £50.
More than one
person responsible for paying the bill?
If there’s more than
one person responsible for paying the bill then a joint summons
with everyone’s name on would be served if you all still live at
the same address. If the people responsible for paying the bill no
longer live at the same address then a separate summons will be
sent to each person. We could then look to either party to make the
What happens if I
If you don’t pay, we will apply to the
Magistrates' Court for a Liability Order.
What are Liability
Once a Liability Order is granted by the
court, it gives us certain powers to recover the money you owe
These powers could allow us to:
- deduct money straight from your wages
- deduct money from your benefits
- get enforcement agents to remove goods
from your home and sell them to cover the amount you owe
You may be asked to provide us
with information about your employment and income details. It’s a
criminal offence not to supply this information once requested or
give false information.
We could also apply to the county court for
a legal charge to be put on your property. This means that when the
property is sold, we’ll automatically receive the money you owe us.
The court could even force you to sell your property.
We could also apply to the courts to:
- make you bankrupt
- have you sent to prison.
After the court date, we’ll send you a
letter telling you that we’ve obtained a Liability Order from the
court, and asking you to fill in a form and provide us with details
about your employment and your regular income and expenditure.
If you still can’t pay the bill in full,
you’ll need to return the form to us within 14 days. We can then
decide how to recover the debt.
If you would like to make a special payment
arrangement to clear the debt at this stage then you need to email
us at firstname.lastname@example.org or
call us on (01902) 696669. But remember, you still need to
return the letter we sent asking for information from you.
Whilst the payment arrangement is in place
and you continue to pay on time, no further recovery action will be
taken. However, if you default on the arrangement, it could be
cancelled and we will look to take further recovery action.
If a mutually agreed payment arrangement
has not been made by this point, South Staffordshire Council will
pass the debt to our Enforcement Agents for collection. If you are
unable to offer a reasonable payment plan to the Enforcement Agents
they have the power to collect the debt by taking control of goods.
(Further charges will be added to your account)
All fees, charges and disbursements are
set by Central Government. These are summarised below:-
Enforcement other than under a
High Court Writ
Percentage fee (regulation 7): percentage of
sum to be recovered exceeding £1500
Sale or disposal stage
Additional costs and disbursements which you
may incur are:
(a) the cost of storing your goods,
(b )the cost of hiring a locksmith to gain
access to your premises and/or secure them thereafter
(c) court fees in relation to any applications
made by the enforcement agent in relation to the enforcement
power which are granted.
(d) exceptional disbursements such as a
removal/specialist contractor (where sanctioned by the court)
(e) costs of selling your goods
If the Enforcement Agents are unsuccessful in
collecting the debt then South Staffordshire Council could commence
action to make you bankrupt, or make an application for
you to be committed to prison or obtain a charging order at the
What is County
The Council can apply to the County Court for
help to recover Council Tax, where repayment has not been made and
other methods of recovery have failed.
The Council can secure the debt against your
home. This is called a charging order and means
that you could lose your home if you don't keep up the
What is a Charging
A charging order allows the Council to levy a
“charge” on your property in order to recover Council Tax arrears.
Once a liability order has been obtained, and providing the
outstanding council tax debt is over £1,000.00, the Council can
apply to a county court for a charging order against your property.
This agreement will include any future council tax due, plus
If granted, the Council will be entitled to
receive the outstanding amount of arrears if the property is sold
(subject to there being sufficient equity remaining after charges
of a higher priority are redeemed, e.g. mortgage). Also loans
cannot be taken out against the property until the debt is paid
The county court is empowered to order the
sale of the property if you do not pay, or do not come to an
arrangement to pay, the outstanding Council Tax arrears.
How do the Council
apply for a charging order?
Applying for a charging order involves two
stages, the interim charging order and then the final charging
Interim charging orders
If the Council decides to apply for a charging
order the following things will happen:
1. The Council sends a form to the
court along with proof from the Land Registry that you own, or
jointly own, your house
2. If the court agrees that you
own a share of the property and a charging order is allowed under
the rules above, you’ll be sent court form N379 which contains all
the details of the charging order
3. A restriction will be placed on
the Land Registry, stopping you from selling your house until the
final charging order hearing. You will get a form B136 from the
Land Registry telling you this has happened.
These forms are issued without a hearing. But
they will give you a date that you need to go to court and this
should be at least 21 days away.
If the hearing isn’t at your local county
court you can ask for it to be transferred to your local county
court. You can use the court finder tool
on the Justice website to help you do this. There is usually a
charge to move the hearing and the court does not have to agree to
Final charging order
For the second stage of the charging order
process you’ll need to attend a hearing.
This is not as scary as it sounds, the hearing
will be in a small room with you, a representative from the Council
who’s applying for the charging order and the district judge.
It’s really important that you go to this
hearing as it’s a chance for you to explain why you’re in this
situation and what you’re doing to get things back on track.
What is an order for sale?
If you have a charging order, you need to keep
making some payment to the debt. If you don’t, the Council could
apply to the court for an order for sale. This would force you to
sell your house so the Council can get their money back.
If you are having financial difficulties
the Citizens Advice Bureau have
money advisers who are available to discuss debt issues.
The National Debt line
provides free confidential and independent advice on how to deal
with debt problems.
Step Change Debt Charity - can
help overcome debt problems. Unlike companies that charge a fee to
manage people’s debts, the charity’s advice is completely free.
|Council Tax Enquiries
||Revenues & Benefits
|Telephone: (01902) 696664
||South Staffordshire Council
|Fax: (01902) 696630