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  • FIRST POST
    • cleanslateguy
    • By cleanslateguy 14th Sep 18, 12:46 PM
    • 22Posts
    • 1Thanks
    cleanslateguy
    Croydon Council have sent someone to my house. Council Tax error!
    • #1
    • 14th Sep 18, 12:46 PM
    Croydon Council have sent someone to my house. Council Tax error! 14th Sep 18 at 12:46 PM
    Croydon Council are massively infuriating.

    I moved out of a property and paid my last payment. The next month they sent me a bill claiming:

    1. I owe them backdated council tax from 2015-2016
    2. I owe council tax for the month after i moved out in March 2017

    The amount was in an August 2017 bill 309. They also failed to apply single persons discount in 2015 which has led to this

    I have placed numerous calls (right now ive even just waited on the phone for 12minutes on hold and the person who picked up in the queue just hung up STRAIGHT AWAY whilst i am writing this) where an admittance of error was made more than once.

    The amount changed suddenly to 505 in July 2018.

    I called once again as i got a notification of intended enforcement with an extrior company and they agreed to take payment and bring it back to the council. I paid 270. which is already more than the amount.

    A letter then came for 141 as an amount due as the last total. I paid this 140 to make it go away.

    Now i have been sent a letter stating 376 to collect and someone has been to my property with a letter left in person stating they want to take my posessions for 376 owed.

    How can i make them go away? I don't owe anyone anything and have paid more than the bill amount but still they chase to no end. What can i do?
Page 1
    • macman
    • By macman 14th Sep 18, 3:28 PM
    • 42,788 Posts
    • 18,035 Thanks
    macman
    • #2
    • 14th Sep 18, 3:28 PM
    • #2
    • 14th Sep 18, 3:28 PM
    You need to dispute the claim in writing. However it appears that a CCJ has already been obtained if you have been visited by bailiffs seeking to seize property. Who exactly is this 'someone'?
    No free lunch, and no free laptop
  • National Debtline
    • #3
    • 14th Sep 18, 3:40 PM
    • #3
    • 14th Sep 18, 3:40 PM
    Hi cleanslateguy,


    First of all, as long as the bailiffs have not been inside your home before, and nothing has been signed with them - do not let them in, lock the doors and hide anything outside of value (like cars) until you can get this resolved. This type of bailiff cannot force entry without a valid controlled goods agreement, so without this you can easily keep them out.

    Council tax is actually enforced through the magistrates court. The council obtain a liability order and can then pass it for enforcement, with things like bailiffs. Unfortunately, this means there is no application that can be made to the court to suspend the bailiffs/ dispute the debt.


    I would suggest you raise a formal complaint with the council, in writing, about the way the situation has been handled. Ask them for a breakdown of the debt and the payments they have received. Perhaps a payment has not been accounted for which has caused confusion. Once you have the breakdown you will be in a better position to challenge the 'outstanding balance'. Ask them to recall the debt from the bailiffs pending the outcome of the complaint. If they don't deal with this in a satisfactory manner then escalate it to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.


    Laura
    @natdebtline
    We work as money advisers for National Debtline and have specific permission from MSE to post to try to help those in debt. Read more information on National Debtline in MSE's Debt Problems: What to do and where to get help guide. If you find you're struggling with debt and need further help try our online advice tool My Money Steps
    • cleanslateguy
    • By cleanslateguy 14th Sep 18, 4:43 PM
    • 22 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    cleanslateguy
    • #4
    • 14th Sep 18, 4:43 PM
    • #4
    • 14th Sep 18, 4:43 PM
    Macman - There is no CCJ on my credit file other wise this could have simply been collected from my earnings or something. On experian there is nothing. This is not a bailiff per say. It is a council worker under their enforement team who is local as they want to save money obviously otherwise it would be pointless. But the point is the amount is just completely wrong.

    Laura - I have written to them with a clear explanation: I will paste the letter I am about to send.
    This is not an actual bailiff coming to the house but a council employee. They are relying on scare tactics.
    • cleanslateguy
    • By cleanslateguy 14th Sep 18, 4:46 PM
    • 22 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    cleanslateguy
    • #5
    • 14th Sep 18, 4:46 PM
    • #5
    • 14th Sep 18, 4:46 PM
    I am writing to you regards my council tax account for the property address XXXXXX that I previously occupied. Account number of XXXXX.
    I vacated the property on the 3rd of March 2017 and moved to (DIFFERENT TOWN). I have now as of 21st April 2018 moved to (XXX) once again & have received a letter from Newlyn, your PSL Debt Enforcement. I also received a wrongful visit from the Croydon Council own enforcement agency.

    I believe the enforcement to be an error on part of Croydon Council for the following reasons.
    Since moving into XXXXXX, I had set up a direct debit which was never cancelled until I vacated the property.
    The first error is from dates 01-APR 2015 to 31 MAR 2016 Speaking with Croydon Council prior to moving out, I was told that the final bill would be 102.33 due to an outstanding amount. This was because no single persons discount was applied to this year despite being the sole occupier of the property since February 2012.
    Northgate was contacted by telephone after a letter dated 25th April 2016 was sent. My circumstances never changed and I always responded to the letters they sent. I spoke with someone on this day that told me it would be corrected and a correct final bill sent.

    The bill dated 15th August 2017 includes an amount brought forward of 443.71 – This amount brought forward does not include the single persons discount in 2015 when it was claimed that I missed the form being sent back. Not only wast he form sent back but Northgate were also telephoned who advised this was done. The SPD was not applied.

    This amount that has gone to summons is incorrect therefore the summons amount should be removed as the amount claimed for was never correct to begin with. I handed in my defense to the court as I was unable to attend in person at the allotted time.

    The second error is in the period of 1st April 2017 to 11th April 2017. I vacated the property on the 3rd of March as the property was handed over after I was evicted in February 2017. I informed the council I was now homeless on two separate occasions. One in advance and one afterwards. I have also attached the letter from the solicitor firm used by my landlady confirming my departure date as agreed with (XXX LANDLORDS SOLICITORS FIRM). I provided this proof last year but it seems to have been ignored and court dates set for enforcement despite it not being payable.

    I have sent proof of the landlord who had the property in disrepair who was served a notice in November 2015 for the property being in disrepair by (COUNCIL WORKER) in the Environmental Health team. The landlord chose to evict in 2016 and the court granted an evicton in February 2017. It was agreed at the court that I had 2 weeks to leave. I left the property on 3rd March 2017. The agents only came to perform a check out report on the 11th April 2017.

    I have paid a payment on the 17th July 2018 of 277 but somehow the total is 555.93 and am now being told I owe a lot more money than the original sums in communication which is not just not true.
    I require the 277 to be refunded minus the difference that is owed of the final sum of 102.33 with single persons discount applied which brings it to circa 60 charge which would mean around 217 refunded.

    On the 20th August I received a letter claiming that 141.58 was owed to close off the matter from the Croydon Enforcement Agent Service showing dates of 2015-2017 of council tax owed. This amount seems correct and I paid this amount on the 24th of August with payment reference: XXXXXX via card ending XXX directly via the online payment portal. I now have a letter showing this amount and a receipt proving payment was made.
    Today, I had an enforcement agent by the name of XXXX then hand me in a letter claiming I owe 367 as of 14th September 2018 which is completely wrong. I am being chased on two fronts for the same debt.

    I have placed numerous calls to the council speaking with XXX, and XXXX and was promised a call back from XXX from XXX twice said and once from another colleague but I have never received a call from XXX.
    This is causing my partner and I who live in the borough at XXXX a lot of stress and now being harassed by people visiting the property.

    Should I not receive this within 14 days, I will have no choice to commence action via moneyclaim online for small claims court against Croydon Council plus costs as it has now reached enforcement with Newlyn where they threaten to come to the property for money that I do not owe. I will also claim for respite due to all these errors and wasted time with over 12 hours in my own work time spent on the phone to the council to resolve this matter.
    .
    I have now overpaid for this bill and it has been incorrectly enforced and irresponsibly.

    Yours Sincerely
    • CIS
    • By CIS 14th Sep 18, 5:06 PM
    • 10,795 Posts
    • 6,259 Thanks
    CIS
    • #6
    • 14th Sep 18, 5:06 PM
    • #6
    • 14th Sep 18, 5:06 PM
    This is not a bailiff per say. It is a council worker under their enforement team who is local as they want to save money obviously otherwise it would be pointless. But the point is the amount is just completely wrong
    To use enforcement powers the council worker has to be a certificated bailiff - some council's employ the certificated bailiffs direct rather then use an outside company. The internal enforcement agents have exactly the same powers as any external company.


    This amount that has gone to summons is incorrect therefore the summons amount should be removed as the amount claimed for was never correct to begin with. I handed in my defense to the court as I was unable to attend in person at the allotted time.
    Until such time as a discount is actually applied the council tax charge is deemed to be correct and can be enforced against. The courts have no say about discounts as per reg57 so they would grant the liability order on the basis the amount was unpaid - any dispute over a discount falls under the remit of the valuation tribunal.

    There is the possibility that the LGO may pick up a case from the maladministration point if the council have failed to act in a timely manner on information they held by the LGO powers to intervene are very limited in this case and you must use the council complaint system first.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a self employed Council Tax paralegal assisting Council Tax payers. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
  • National Debtline
    • #7
    • 14th Sep 18, 5:24 PM
    • #7
    • 14th Sep 18, 5:24 PM
    Hello again,

    Firstly, I agree with CIS regarding the bailiffs/ enforcement agents, so please ensure that you take the right precautions about entry.

    Second of all, your letter is very detailed, and you reference being able to include good evidence, but it may be hard for someone new to your situation to understand the crux of the issue from the start. It may help to include a short introduction paragraph just to summarise the issue and why that is a problem.


    For example, I am being chased for council tax from the 1st April 2015 – March 2017 from address XXXX. I lived in this property from February 2012 until 3rd March 2017. There have been a string of errors with this bill, and despite the bills being inconsistent and me making payments; I am still being chased for money owed.

    Please be aware that you do not have to use this wording (it is only a suggestion); there are template letters for complaints that are available at places like www.resolver.co.uk if you felt that may be of any benefit.

    Whilst you are within your rights to threaten court action, complaints would normally be escalated through to the ombudsman (in this case the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman) if the council doesn't resolve this to your satisfaction. Remember that court is a risk for both sides, and can cost money, whereas the complaint process is free.

    Laura
    @natdebtline
    We work as money advisers for National Debtline and have specific permission from MSE to post to try to help those in debt. Read more information on National Debtline in MSE's Debt Problems: What to do and where to get help guide. If you find you're struggling with debt and need further help try our online advice tool My Money Steps
    • cleanslateguy
    • By cleanslateguy 14th Sep 18, 5:38 PM
    • 22 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    cleanslateguy
    • #8
    • 14th Sep 18, 5:38 PM
    • #8
    • 14th Sep 18, 5:38 PM
    I didnt know there was a local government ombudsman.

    I feel like i dont know where to go and that they arent listening even after 10 + phone calls explaining the same.
    • CIS
    • By CIS 15th Sep 18, 10:13 AM
    • 10,795 Posts
    • 6,259 Thanks
    CIS
    • #9
    • 15th Sep 18, 10:13 AM
    • #9
    • 15th Sep 18, 10:13 AM
    I didnt know there was a local government ombudsman.

    I feel like i dont know where to go and that they arent listening even after 10 + phone calls explaining the same.
    Originally posted by cleanslateguy

    It's because you're caught between several different aspects of council tax and each has their own processes - there, is as I mentioned earlier, a difference in the route between disputing the enforcement action taken and disputing council tax discounts and liability (even where the enforcement is because of a discount/liability).

    I often see clients who are trying to dispute a discount or liability to the magistrate's court, for example, and it doesn't work due to the legislative basis of the route of dispute. It's difficult if you're not knowledgeable on council tax legislation as it gives the council a leg up straight away.



    The LGO can deal with maladministration but can take a while due to the complaints route that must be followed, this is why it's not as well used as it could be. The discount/liability side has a formal process to go through to dispute it correctly and the council cannot avoid that process as the legislation makes sure of that point however it's not a process that the LGO can usually get involved with.
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a self employed Council Tax paralegal assisting Council Tax payers. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
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