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Council tax -Erk!

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
So... long story short.

Moved into a property in June 2005. Lived there until November 2008.

Was a student till July 2008.

Was unemployed until I left pretty much.

Was the only person on the council tax as flatmates promised they had put themselves on but hadn't.

Landlord assured me it was included in my rent.

Started to get threatening letters.

Called and they said it was ok.

2 years later living somewhere else I get a letter and a threat of baliffs. First I've heard in 2 years.

I've emailed them explaining the situation, how I no longer possess a copy of my tenancy agreement etc.

They ask me to send tenancy agreement and details of everybody else at the address.

Receive another we're sending the baliffs letter.

Call them they say to "send tenancy agreement" I say I haven't got it. The girl at the end of the phone (utter div btw) says it's all fine....

really scared... don't have £550 to give them.... live with fiance and his dad and so nothing in the house is mine if the baliffs do come.

Help?

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Did you claim benefits while you were unemployed at that address?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    No, I tried to. I went and filled out all the paperwork but as I only had a mobile number for my landlord. No full address or anything (he was really shady) my claim was refused.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Ah. Although not an expert, i would imagine those few months you were unemployed and not in receit of work related benefits 'may' of meant you were liable for the council tax for those few months. As you said, you flatmtes were supposed to declare and didn't, because having you as the sole occupier and being a student = no coucil tax bill at all.

    Best get onto CAB about this.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Also next time you speak to someone about it, ask them to confirm in writing.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Send them a letter explaining that you've cleared all this up in the past and were assured that the matter was closed. Also explain that you consider the approach they're taking now as harassment and that you want compensating to the tune of £600 for the mental anguish - and to that end, the bailiffs will be coming round to collect if they've not paid by the end of the week.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I've sent them a follow up email saying I spoke to this woman and she said it was "OK". The call would be logged as well.

    They asked me to provide names and DOBs of the people who lived at the building as well as me, which I have given them full details of (too bloody right as well).

    Thing is i got this bailiff's letter again this morning, dated 3rd November demanding details of my employment, direct debit details etc to be provided within 14 days. Called again this afternoon and they said that this "should be fine". I don't know whether these letters were sent before I acknowledged anything etc.

    It says there was a court hearing and all sorts.... :(
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Also, RE: CAB the one near me is only open during the week and the first Saturday of every month... by the time I can get to it I'm scared they will have sent balliffs round (also live with my fiance and his dad so nothing here is mine!)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Next time you call, ask for confirmation that 'things will be fine and the bailiffs won't be coming round.

    Ideally email by the sounds of it.

    Also raise a complaint through the official complaints procedure.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I shall be doing that. I'm so annoyed at this... its almost like they chased my landlord or something and he's done a bunk so they've come back to me. :(
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hey there StarCrossed,

    Seems like a frustrating time for you right now in relation to this council tax from 2 years ago (!).

    Like the other users have suggested, getting expert legal advice is probably your best option right now. Understandably, you are concerned that you can't wait any longer as the bailiffs could come around at any time, however, there are many places who offer legal advice quickly and cheaply (or for free).

    The Community Legal Advice helpline is one example. They offer free, confidential, legal advice. Their number is 0845 345 4 345 and they are open Mon - Fri 9am - 8:00pm and on Sat 9am - 12:30pm. They also have a call back service on their website, so check that out.

    Alternatively, you can search for a solicitor using the Community Legal Advice website; just type in your postcode and area of law you need and a list of firms will come up. Again the legal advice may be quicker than CAB but you might have to pay for the advice.

    Shelter have some good advice pages on Council Tax Arrears and Council Tax Appeals.

    Shelter also has a free advice helpline. You can call them on 0808 800 4444. They are open 8am-8pm Monday-Friday and 8am-5pm Saturday-Sunday.

    I hope the above helps and keep us posted on any progress.

    :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I hope you're managing to get this sorted out. When dealing with matters around debts and complaints it is best practice to always deal in writing. Speaking on the telephone may get you a quick answer, but most companies do not record all calls and where they do they're usually kept for very short periods of time, so it is not always possible for them to go back and listen to a call. If it is in writing it is a lot harder for them to wiggle out of it or deny anything.

    When sending letters in situations such as this it is always advisable to send them by recorded delivery. It may be more expensive, but companies sometimes like to play the “we never got it card”. If you can say it was signed for at their offices on a specific date and time (Royal Mail website even allows you to download a copy of the signature) it puts them on the back foot as it’s their problem it is lost. I had a long-running complaint with a company spanning from Oct ’09 to Feb ’10 and they once tried to play this card. The letter soon “turned up” when I told them I had proof it arrived at their office courtesy of Royal Mail.

    Also, keep copies of all letters you send and copies of letters you receive and once the matter is resolved keep them for at least six years (longer in the case of matters relating to council tax).

    The advantage of letters is that they’re official; you have dates and full names of all everyone you have dealt with. This makes proving your point a lot easier and if they have told you “everything is fine” and bailiffs later turn up showing them official documentation with such wording on them will usually make them postpone action while they find out what’s going on.
    Lodging a formal complaint may also postpone any debt recovery action while they investigate and resolve your complaint.

    If you do lodge a formal complaint keep at them and don’t give in. If you have a case you will win it; it’s often a battle of wills and usually the customer/client/service user (whatever they call the “little person” gives in first).

    Make sure you state from the outset that you are making a formal complaint and ensure that any letter you send makes it unambiguos that this is a complaint and you are still unsatisfied with the complaint.

    Once your complaint has started adhere to their published complaints process strictly and keep moving it up the chain. In the case of Local Government there is always the Local Government Ombudsman to turn to once you have exhausted their internal processes – don’t be afraid to take your case to them.

    If their published complaints procedure has timeframes then chase them up as soon as they have passed. If their published complaints procedure does not guarantee a reply within a set number of days then stipulate a specific date by which you expect a written response, but ensure that it allows time for them to receive your letter, investigate and respond. Anything between 14 - 28 days depdning on the complexity of the matter would normally be "reasonable". Any chasers you make regarding your complaint make by letter as well.

    You can also try your MP or local Councillor prior to going to the LGO. They can usually speed things up and get answers from the top a lot quicker than you will.

    If you absolutley have to speak to them by telephone in addition to your letters make your telephone conversation at a desk with a pen and paper. Note the date and time of the call, the full name of the person you’re speaking to and what department they work in. Take detailed notes as to the content of the conversation and keep this safe with the copies of letters and couments you have sent them.

    With public spending being cut and council budgets being tighter than ever they will become a lot more ruthless than they were in the “good years” when it comes to Council Tax arrears. Don’t let them bully you; if you have just cause for believeing you owe them no debtthen pursue it all the way. Chances are they’ll give up once they know you’re not going down without a fight as it will probably end up more costly in terms of compensation and costs if you end up taking it to the LGO and winning.

    The Local Government Ombudsman has a top tips page on their website that I suggest you look at.

    Hope everything goes well.
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