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  • FIRST POST
    Distillerdude
    Need help - Bailiffs and Council Tax Arrears
    • #1
    • 24th Jan 12, 2:34 PM
    Need help - Bailiffs and Council Tax Arrears 24th Jan 12 at 2:34 PM
    Hi all, My situation is as follows:

    A bailiff from Phoenix Commercial Collections attended my house today while i was at work and my wife answered the door. Apparently we have outstanding council tax debt of 1660 which needs to be paid in full asap.

    When she told me this I gave him a call and he informed me that they had sent numerous letters and even posted notes through the door in the last few weeks when they've visited. Needless to say we have not received any letters from them, nor did we receive the notes they supposedly left.

    I can't see any way to come up with the money by Friday (which is when he said the money needs to be paid by) and they won't accept a penny less by then (I can possibly pay 800 by borrowing before Friday with promises of 300 per month til this is paid but this was flatly refused). He plans to return on Friday and remove goods if we have not got all the money for him.

    Has anyone got any advice for me here? For some reason I assumed that we had until April to clear the council tax, and I'm obviously paying dearly for this mistake now and am really desperate.
Page 2
  • hallowitch
    keep the bailiff out and tell your wife not to open the door no he cant put his foot in the door and push his way in this would be classed as trespass

    proving it would be a different thing (councils always side with their bailiff)

    as for the council they will tell you anything just to get you off the phone its there debt they are and always will be responsible for the bailiff at the door and can call of the bailiff tell them to accept the amount you offered to pay at any time during enforcement

    the bailiff is correct in saying that (as of today) there is no agreement in place until you get a reply from the council

    because your debt is 1660 you will be seen as big bucks to the bailiff if he can get a levy on your goods 42.50 in visit fees 67 levy fee 12 walking possession fee and (180/200 van attendance fee that will added if payment is not made within 5/7 day after the levy)

    send the e-mail RAS is going give you to send

    does your wife have proof of her she has mental health/anxiety issues is she attending the doctor and reciving medication
    I am not an expert I am self taught i have no legal training any information I post is based on my own personal experience and information gained from other web sites


    If you are in any doubt please seek legal/expert advice help
  • hallowitch
    you should have asked the to confirm that this bailiff has the authority to collect this debt as his certificated is not with PNX

    phone the MOJ and ask if he has changed his certificate details to reflect a new employer Ministry of Justice Public Register of bailiffs on 020 3334 6355 to confirm


    ask him for the phone number of Worcester Combined Court(i cant find it ) phone them and ask if he has applied for a change of certificate if yes when

    If the answer is no to both then get back on the phone to the council don't ask demand they confirm today that he has their authorisation to collect this debt as he is not certificated to PNX
    Last edited by hallowitch; 30-01-2012 at 2:05 PM.
    I am not an expert I am self taught i have no legal training any information I post is based on my own personal experience and information gained from other web sites


    If you are in any doubt please seek legal/expert advice help
  • Distillerdude
    Ok, we're basically going to ignore him if he comes to the door, which is awkward.

    My wife does have proof of her mental health/anxiety issues and prescriptions for her medication.

    I phoned the MOJ on that number but the only option was to leave a message, so i did.

    I then found the number for Worcester Combined Court and telephoned them. They are going to call me back shortly with the change of certificate details.

    I look forward to getting this email from RAS. Thanks again to all of you for this help.
  • Distillerdude
    Just heard back from Worcester Combined Court who said that his employment was changed to RES (Recovery Enforcement Services) of Worcester on 8th Aug 2011.

    So I suppose the next thing to find out is if RES and Phoenix are connected? I tried to ring RES but it goes straight to answering phone. I haven't left a message with them yet.
  • hallowitch
    Just heard back from Worcester Combined Court who said that his employment was changed to RES (Recovery Enforcement Services) of Worcester on 8th Aug 2011.

    So I suppose the next thing to find out is if RES and Phoenix are connected? I tried to ring RES but it goes straight to answering phone. I haven't left a message with them yet.
    Originally posted by Distillerdude
    It doesn't matter if they are connected it would be seen as sub contacting and most if not all local authority contact's with there bailiff firms do not allow them to sub contact work out

    In fact get on the phone now ask to speak to someone of authority in recovery ask them to get it sorted asap (today) this bailiff has no authority to collect this debt (and the council can confirm with PNX immediately why this bailiff has been instructed to collect your debt tell them you are sending a complaint to the ICO (information commissioner's office ) reporting there contractor for passing on your info with no legal authorisation

    wish i had known about your wife being ill when wrote that letter she could be classed as vulnerable

    http://www.ico.gov.uk/
    go on your local authority web site you can make a freedom of information request
    does xxxx local authority have a service level agreement with PNX LTD if yes what is it
    does xxx local authority have a contract with PNX LTD if yes what is it
    Last edited by hallowitch; 30-01-2012 at 2:55 PM.
    I am not an expert I am self taught i have no legal training any information I post is based on my own personal experience and information gained from other web sites


    If you are in any doubt please seek legal/expert advice help
  • Distillerdude
    It doesn't matter if they are connected it would be seen as sub contacting and most if not all local authority contact's with there bailiff firms do not allow them to sub contact work out

    In fact get on the phone now ask to speak to someone of authority in recovery ask them to get it sorted asap (today) this bailiff has no authority to collect this debt (and the council can confirm with PNX immediately why this bailiff has been instructed to collect your debt tell them you are sending a complaint to the ICO (information commissioner's office ) reporting there contractor for passing on your info with no legal authorisation.
    Originally posted by hallowitch
    Ok, I spoke to Barnet Council again who have basically told me that it's no longer Barnet Council's debt as they've passed the liability order to Phoenix, and as such it's not up to them what Phoenix do or who they use.

    So I asked them to confirm that if for example Phoenix were using improper methods to pursue this account, Barnet Council would not be liable or able to do anything? She confirmed this.
  • RAS
    Ok, I spoke to Barnet Council again who have basically told me that it's no longer Barnet Council's debt as they've passed the liability order to Phoenix, and as such it's not up to them what Phoenix do or who they use.

    So I asked them to confirm that if for example Phoenix were using improper methods to pursue this account, Barnet Council would not be liable or able to do anything? She confirmed this.
    Originally posted by Distillerdude
    Well it is about time that this lady learned the law.

    Ring back, ask to speak to to her, get her name and then remind her of the conversation. At that point tell her you are recording the conversation and ask her to repeat the advice given to you tonight, because it is wrong.

    Local authorities cannot avoid responsibility for the action of their agents.

    Then write to them and advise them that if you see this bailiff gain, you will complain to the Ombudsman.

    Does your local councillor have a surgery anytime soon? If so, book an appointment.

    And get it in writing to both the Council and the bailiff that your wife is a vulnerable person. Send two letters from different post offices with a certificate of posting.
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • RAS

    I phone the council who said that the liability order was in the amount of 1,436.25 and this amount was passed to Phoenix on 29th November. They were also shocked that we were asked for 1,660 as they believed the amount with fees should only be about 1,460 at the moment.

    I then called Phoenix who told me to contact the bailiff and would not listen to any proposals to pay. I then called the bailiff who said that he had added a 200 attendance fee for today and confirmed that he would accept nothing less than the full 1660 by Friday. I kept the conversation short as I could not record it.
    Originally posted by Distillerdude
    Well. This lot need to learn the law, although adding illegal fees is so common that when one OP here went back to the bailiff to advise him that she was not paying half the attendance fee (his offer of a compromise), his answer was "OK, fair cop!"

    Please e-mail central@phoenixcommercial.co.uk

    You need to say something along the following lines

    Account 1234556677


    I refer to the above account in relation to unpaid council tax due to Barnet Council
    As you will be aware from your files this account has been passed to Mr Holmes collecting on behalf of yourselves.
    Mr Holmes left a notice of attendance with an outstanding balance of 1660 this amount is not broken down to explain the fees charged to date, including the one for that visit, and the fees which will be incurred if further action becomes necessary.

    The query that I have is concerning the amount that your bailiff is now stating is due. You will be aware that your bailiff visited my premises on xxx and for this visit I am advised that Mr xxx may only charge a fee of 24.50 for "attending to levy where no levy was made".

    As a matter of urgency can you please provide a full and detailed breakdown of the charges made by your bailiff.

    Please also note that my wife has (mental health problems) and I have been advised that she is a vulnerable person and as such your staff should cease attending the property when she is there.( In particular I object to him trying to force the door open by putting his foot in it and preventing her from closing the door) - whatever words you want.

    Distillerdude

    I was tempted to remind them that the bailiff is not certificated, but lets leave this to later (as at the moment they cannot have any fees and you do not want them sending a correctly certified bailiff just so they can collect fees).
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • Distillerdude
    Thanks RAS. I'll ring the Council tomorrow. I've got the name of the lady I spoke to earlier so I'll try to speak to her again and get her to repeat her advice.

    In the meantime, I've readied letters to the council advising them that if we see this bailiff again, we will complain to the Ombudsman.

    I've also readied letters to both the Council and Phoenix advising them of my wife's vulnerable status. Shall I also email this to the Council?

    I have also emailed phoenix as per your advice.

    Thanks again for all of this, and I'll keep you posted if anything else happens.
  • hallowitch
    Thanks RAS. I'll ring the Council tomorrow. I've got the name of the lady I spoke to earlier so I'll try to speak to her again and get her to repeat her advice.

    Ohh i am so happy you got her name dont post her name on here but do you know if she works in council tax recovery
    Ive got a nice e-mail almost ready to send to


    Richard Cornelius



    Position:
    Leader of the Council



    Party:
    Conservative



    Ward:
    Totteridge



    Address:
    Leader's Office
    London Borough of Barnet
    North London Business Park
    Oakleigh Road South
    London


    cllr.r.cornelius@barnet.gov.uk|





    N11 1NP
    I am not an expert I am self taught i have no legal training any information I post is based on my own personal experience and information gained from other web sites


    If you are in any doubt please seek legal/expert advice help
  • Distillerdude
    Here's a turn up!

    Had a phone call from someone at Phoenix apologising for any distress and telling me that they've just sent me an email with their payment proposals. They also said that there should not have been a 200 "attending fee" and that only the standard 42.50 fees should have been added.

    I checked my email and found the following from Phoenix:

    Good Morning,

    Please find attached letters detailing a breakdown of your account. We are able to offer you a 10 month arrangement on the account, the payments will be 102.87 per month. Please contact us by return to set this arrangement up.

    Once the arrangement is set up on the account no further recovery action will be taken unless the arrangement is broken.

    Regards

    They've also included an attachment breakdown of the total amount made up as follows:
    --------------------------
    Debt: 1436.25
    Court Fees: 0.00
    Bailiff Charges: 42.50
    Payments received: 450.00

    TOTAL DUE: 1,028.75
    --------------------------

    Sounds like an excellent result to me! I feel like I want to accept their offer and then accelerate payments to them as I already planned to. Let me know what you guys think!
  • hallowitch
    Here's a turn up!

    Had a phone call from someone at Phoenix apologising for any distress and telling me that they've just sent me an email with their payment proposals. They also said that there should not have been a 200 "attending fee" and that only the standard 42.50 fees should have been added.

    I checked my email and found the following from Phoenix:

    Good Morning,

    Please find attached letters detailing a breakdown of your account. We are able to offer you a 10 month arrangement on the account, the payments will be 102.87 per month. Please contact us by return to set this arrangement up.

    Once the arrangement is set up on the account no further recovery action will be taken unless the arrangement is broken.

    Regards

    They've also included an attachment breakdown of the total amount made up as follows:
    --------------------------
    Debt: 1436.25
    Court Fees: 0.00
    Bailiff Charges: 42.50
    Payments received: 450.00

    TOTAL DUE: 1,028.75
    --------------------------

    Sounds like an excellent result to me! I feel like I want to accept their offer and then accelerate payments to them as I already planned to. Let me know what you guys think!
    Originally posted by Distillerdude
    well well well ever had the feeling this thread is being read by PNX or they have had there fingers well and truly rapped by the council

    Never have i ever in the 4 years i have been doing this have i seen of a bailiff firm/local authority accepting less than they were offered almost 150 a month less now thats a result

    For your wifes sake i think you should agree on the understanding that payment will be made by standing order only and no payment fees will be be incurred for payment (as per regulations the distress for rent rules 1988 )
    Fees, Charges and Expenses
    10. No person shall be entitled to charge, or recover from, a tenant any fees, charges or expenses for levying a distress, or for doing any act or thing in relation thereto, other than those authorised by the tables in Appendix 1 to these Rules.




    you make dam sure you write to reach your account by (date of each month)

    If you are going to pay the 250 every month remember that if you cant pay 102 one month they wont take previous overpayment into account
    Get everything in writing
    Last edited by hallowitch; 31-01-2012 at 12:26 PM.
    I am not an expert I am self taught i have no legal training any information I post is based on my own personal experience and information gained from other web sites


    If you are in any doubt please seek legal/expert advice help
  • RAS
    Hi

    great news

    They are not really entitled to the 42.50 since the bailiff is not even registered to them but get the SO set up and argue that out later.
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • Herbie21
    I have read this thread with interest and once again...excellent advice from Hallowitch and RAS.
    What never ceases to amaze me is that local authorities are forgetting that THEY are wholly responsible for the levy and fees charged by THEIR agents and they cannot walk away from their responsibility.

    Furthermore, when challenged, the bailiff company appear to "claim" that the fee charged was an "error"

    IT WAS NOT AN ERROR AT ALL!!!!

    The bailiff knows that under section 10 of the Distress for Rent Rules 1988 it specifically states that he MUST NOT charge ANY FEES OTHER than those provided for under the statutory regulations and he would know that the "fees" are those relating to the enforcement of unpaid council tax and this clearly provides that he can charge a fee of 24.50 for "attending to levy" (where no levy was made.

    He will know that he can charge a 2nd visit fee for "attending to levy" of 18.00 but most importantly, HE KNOWS that UNLESS he has been able to "levy" upon goods, that he cannot charge any more fees to this particular account.

    Therefore, HE KNOWS that he should not be charging an "enforcement fee" of 200 and to do so, in my opinion is to DECEIVE THE DEBTOR and to attempt to obtain money by sheer and utter deception.

    When challenged, the bailiff company will claim that an "error" was made (which is nonsense) and debtors almost routinely accept that this was an "error" and take no further action.
  • HappyMJ
    You really should start a new thread...easy enough to do just copy and paste your post in a new thread and come back here and delete this post.
  • lostdreamz
    Wow, this forum helped me alot, thank you all so much.
    I had exactly the same problem and I sent the drafted letter on here to my council who accepted my payment offer direct and have asked to see a copy of the letter left by my bailiff showing 200 fee when there was no levy of goods.

    I have another issue though.... The bailiff that visited my property (Mr Sean Murphy) is not on the bailiff register. Can I do anything with regards to Phoenix breaking Data Protection??
    It is about time they had somebody take things seriously with them to stop this happening to others.

    Any help would be gratefull.
  • hallowitch
    Wow, this forum helped me alot, thank you all so much.
    I had exactly the same problem and I sent the drafted letter on here to my council who accepted my payment offer direct and have asked to see a copy of the letter left by my bailiff showing 200 fee when there was no levy of goods.

    I have another issue though.... The bailiff that visited my property (Mr Sean Murphy) is not on the bailiff register. Can I do anything with regards to Phoenix breaking Data Protection??
    It is about time they had somebody take things seriously with them to stop this happening to others.

    Any help would be gratefull.
    Originally posted by lostdreamz
    there are 5 certificated bailiffs with the name Murphy no Sean and none working with Phoenix

    the bailiff register can be a bit hit and miss as its not always up to date
    send him a text and ask what court he is certificated at on what date and to which bailiff firm if any (he may be self employed) if he has nothing to hide he should be happy to provide this information and/ or phone the MOJ on 020 3334 6355

    when you find out for sure whether he is certificated or not we will be able to help you take the next step
    I am not an expert I am self taught i have no legal training any information I post is based on my own personal experience and information gained from other web sites


    If you are in any doubt please seek legal/expert advice help
  • lostdreamz
    there are 5 certificated bailiffs with the name Murphy no Sean and none working with Phoenix

    the bailiff register can be a bit hit and miss as its not always up to date
    send him a text and ask what court he is certificated at on what date and to which bailiff firm if any (he may be self employed) if he has nothing to hide he should be happy to provide this information and/ or phone the MOJ on 020 3334 6355

    when you find out for sure whether he is certificated or not we will be able to help you take the next step
    Originally posted by hallowitch

    Thank you Hallowitch, I will give them a call Monday and let you know.
  • lostdreamz
    there are 5 certificated bailiffs with the name Murphy no Sean and none working with Phoenix

    the bailiff register can be a bit hit and miss as its not always up to date
    send him a text and ask what court he is certificated at on what date and to which bailiff firm if any (he may be self employed) if he has nothing to hide he should be happy to provide this information and/ or phone the MOJ on 020 3334 6355

    when you find out for sure whether he is certificated or not we will be able to help you take the next step
    Originally posted by hallowitch
    Sorry for the delay.
    I spoke to the MOJ on the Monday and the lady agreed that Mr Sean Murphy was not on the register. She also asked me to send an email to the MOJ requesting they confirm this. I sent the email straight away, as it is nearly a week since sending the email and not hearing anything back, I do not know what to do. I can only assume that ater checking myself again that he is certainly not registered.

    As I said before the issue wit the council is resolved as they accepted my payment direct to them themselves however, I do not see why Phoenix should get away with this constantly, and I want to try and hit them hard.
  • cashmir86
    council tax debt HELP!!!Im not even in the UK anymore
    Hi everyone,

    I really need some help. So here's the deal. The lady I stayed with in London received a letter from the bailiffs regarding some outstanding council tax worth 460 quid.
    After trying to remember what this what relating to as this dates back to 2010(!!!!!) I realized that is with reference to a flat I used to live in. We were 4 tenants with our names on the council tax bill but we all moved out at different times. I believe that the last flat mate did not take our names of the council tax bill or didn't notify them that we are moving out. We paid all our bill until we moved out. Problem is that obviously our names were on it. All tenants now live abroad. Im a german citizen and currently residing in the US. But I have contact to the lady in the flat who got the letter. She called the bailiffs and informed them that I visited her but do not live there anymore.
    Now they told her that they would have come in and inspect the flat which I quite frankly don't think they have the authority to just walk into a flat just because I had mail sent to that flat.

    She is freaking out as am I. Im worried that this will have legal implications and that my visa for the us will be jeopardized. Please help me.

    I only have an email confirming that I rented out a different property from 2 months after I moved out but we never bothered to change the names for the council tax bill and I have absolutely no documents anymore on me. I threw everything out.

    Please help me! I have no idea what to do
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