Mr X has £1,700 in unpaid council tax after missing a payment. He did not receive any paperwork relating to this. The council took him to court for recovery, although he claimed that he did not receive any paperwork in respect of this either.
When Mr X called the Council to make arrangements to pay some of it, they informed him that the matter had been passed to a bailiff company. When he contacted the bailiff company he was told to pay what he could, which he did.
A bailiff later arrived at his house, but did not take any action. Mr X rang the department for work and pensions who told him they would try to help him out with his council tax as he has been unemployed for a few months and is currently looking for work. The DWP told Mr X to call the bailiff, but he received no response. He called again and was told that the bailiff he was trying to contact did not work there anymore.
Following further communication with the bailiff company to try and make arrangements to make payment, he was told to make an arrangement with the individual bailiff who would be visiting his house. Mr X was concerned that they would take demand the whole payment, or seize his property.
Advice from CWJ Pro Bono Clinic
Mr M is doing everything right at the moment by trying to get into contact with the relevant bailiffs to try and make some arrangements to make a payment. He should write a detailed letter to the bailiff company, marked urgent, outlining all of the attempts made so far to try and get the issue resolved. He should explain that he is unable to pay in full, but that he is willing to pay by instalments. In addition he should send a copy of that letter to the relevant council tax office.
He should also call the Council Tax Office directly and explain the attempts that he has made to communicate with the bailiff company and the problems he has had in doing so. He should ask the council if they could speak to the bailiffs and ask them to accept payment by instalments, as the bailiffs are only employed to work under the instruction of their client, in this case, the council.
The advice given was specific to the matter and may not apply in similar circumstances.
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