We may instruct an enforcement agent (previously known as a bailiff) to collect an outstanding Council Tax debt from you if a liability order has been issued in your name.
We employ the following two enforcement agent companies:
Enforcement stages and fees
There are three stages of enforcement:
1. Compliance stage
As soon as we instruct an enforcement agent you will be charged a fixed fee of £75 per case. The enforcement agent will write to you to arrange payment of the debt, either in full within seven days, or in instalments.
You can avoid further fees by paying the debt in full either over the phone or online:
Any payments or offers of repayment should be made to the enforcement agent and not the council.
2. Enforcement stage
If you ignore the first letter from the enforcement agent or do not keep to any arrangement made, the case will move to the enforcement stage. An enforcement agent will visit you to collect the debt. Additional fees of £235 plus 7.5% for any debt over £1,500 will be charged at this stage.
If you cannot pay the debt, the enforcement agent may make a repayment arrangement with you or enter into a Controlled Goods Agreement – this means that the agent will make a list of your possessions that is equal in value to your debt. You cannot sell or get rid of the possessions on the list without the agent’s permission.
3. Sale or disposal stage
If you do not stick to the terms of the repayment arrangement, the agent will remove your possessions and sell them at public auction. Additional fees of £110 plus 7.5% for any debt over £1,500 will be charged and all outstanding fees will be paid from the proceeds of sale
Further costs, such as locksmith, storage and auctioneers fees may also be charged.
These fees are set by the Ministry of Justice and cannot be changed by us or the enforcement agent.
|Stage||Flat fee||Additional fees|
|Enforcement||£235||7.5% for any debt over £1,500|
|Sale or disposal||£110||7.5% for any debt over £1,500|
If the enforcement agent cannot sell enough possessions to cover the amount owned, or cannot gain entry to your property, they will return your case to us so we can take further enforcement action. We will either:
- apply to the Magistrates Court for a Committal Order for you to be sent to prison for up to three months
- petition for you to be made bankrupt or
- apply for a Charging Order, which may force you to sell your home to repay the debt.
Can the enforcement agent take all my furniture?
No. The enforcement agent must leave you with the essential items that you need to live – for example, table, chairs, bed, bedding etc.
He or she will probably concentrate on items such as televisions, computers, game consoles, small high-value items and vehicles.
Nothing in the house belongs to me – will the enforcement agent still remove things?
An enforcement agent may legally remove any goods that they reasonably believe belong to you. So, you will have to prove that the items do not belong to you, to avoid them being removed.
What if the enforcement agent refuses to make an arrangement with me?
Legally, the enforcement agent does not have to make an arrangement with you. Once the case gets to the enforcement stage, they can immediately remove your possessions to sell at auction to pay your debt.
However, they would prefer to obtain payment, so if you have financial problems they may decide to offer a short payment arrangement. To do this, you will need to co-operate with them and allow them into your home to make a list of goods. They will also need details of your income and expenditure.
Why can't I just make an arrangement with the council?
Before we instructed the enforcement agents, we will have sent you several notices, asking you to contact us to arrange payment. You may have chosen to ignore those notices or you may have made a payment arrangement, but not kept to it.
At this stage, we require more than just a promise of payment. The enforcement agent will enter in to a short payment arrangement if you can show him or her that you have financial difficulties, but they will prepare a list of goods (called a Control of Goods Notice), and they will remove those goods if you do not keep to the arrangement.
What will happen if I pay the arrears to the council, but not the enforcement agent fees?
By law, any payment that you make will go towards clearing the costs and fees first. We will tell the enforcement agent that you have made a payment and they will continue to collect the balance. Remember – the fees are set by the Ministry of Justice and must be paid.
You are responsible for making payment direct to the enforcement agent - not to the council.
What if I don't think that I owe the arrears?
If you don’t think you owe the arrears or think you may be entitled to Council Tax support, contact us immediately. We will check your account and tell you what information we need to make a decision.