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Council Tax

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
I've had a summons come through the door today, demanding £148, due on 14th February (it's now the 19th) and it says I have to go to court on 17th March to pay it.

My arguments are this:
  1. My flatmate pays council tax (we all pay her), so why isn't her name on the bill?
  2. This is the first I've ever heard of it
  3. I can see they got my name, probably from the electoral register, but they are only asking for 1 month
  4. It's unlikely I'll be able to get the time off work anyhow

I really don't know what to do and am quite stressed about it... Will I get a criminal record from this? Can they just randomly take me to court, having never sent me anything else before? Why just this one month?

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Namaste wrote: »
    I've had a summons come through the door today, demanding £148, due on 14th February (it's now the 19th) and it says I have to go to court on 17th March to pay it.

    My arguments are this:
    1. My flatmate pays council tax (we all pay her), so why isn't her name on the bill?
    2. This is the first I've ever heard of it
    3. I can see they got my name, probably from the electoral register, but they are only asking for 1 month
    4. It's unlikely I'll be able to get the time off work anyhow

    I really don't know what to do and am quite stressed about it... Will I get a criminal record from this? Can they just randomly take me to court, having never sent me anything else before? Why just this one month?

    Phone the number on the summons and say you only received it today. If you pay before the court date they will usually cancel the appearance.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    This is where I expose my dark distant and seldom acknowledged part in local taxes.

    1. All residents of the house are equally liable and therefore the council can invoice any of you. The fact that they have changed the name and are taking your to court suggests that your flatmate hasn't been paying.

    2. It may be the first you've heard of it but, in law, it's the households responsibility and therefore you should have made sure that the bill was being paid, even if someone else was supposed to do it.

    3. Local Councils have links with a number of other agencies, including the utility companies and yes they can look on the electoral roll. If someone, somewhere, as you logged as living there then chances are the council will find out.

    4. Read the summons. It will probably suggest that they are seeking a liability order and that if you do not attend then the case will proceed as if you had. If that is the case then don't bother taking time off, it's not worth it. What this court summons does if prove before the court that you are resident there and that the charge on the house hasn't been paid (NB It's actually due in full on 1st April but councils allow installments). Unless you can either prove that you aren't resident, or that the bill has been paid then you have no defence.

    Finally, no you will not get a criminal record. What this does is allow the council to instruct bailiffs if they wish to. Be warned, they will. The other option it gives then, should you continue to refuse to pay, is to have you taken to prison. You are a long, long way from that and it's the last resort. In all my years doing local taxation, my council never did that.

    Contact the council now and ask what options you have, given the history. Chances are they will accept part payment and then a balance by instalments. Also, ask your flatmate what the hell is going on ;)

    Relax, this really isn't that bad.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    What this does is allow the council to instruct bailiffs if they wish to. Be warned, they will.
    :yes: We had someone show up the day after we moved into a rented property one year because the previous tenants hadn't paid. We were quite lucky they gave us 24 hours to take proof of the new tenancy and student status to the local council but it was ridiculously stressful.

    The only way it will really go away is if you force your housemate to pay and set up a direct debit for future installments.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    But why is it only me on the letter if she normally gets the council stuff?

    The letter I was sent states:
    Council records show you were sent a council tax bill requiring payments by installments on specific dates. You were then sent a reminder informing you that one or more installments were overdue.

    There must be a mistake, haven't received anything. Flatmate pays by direct debit.
    2. It may be the first you've heard of it but, in law, it's the households responsibility and therefore you should have made sure that the bill was being paid, even if someone else was supposed to do it.
    So maybe they sent letters to her and she didn't tell us? Then just decided to address this letter to me?
    1. All residents of the house are equally liable and therefore the council can invoice any of you. The fact that they have changed the name and are taking your to court suggests that your flatmate hasn't been paying.
    But it was for March-April 2010... Aaages ago. I moved in March 9th 2010.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    piccolo wrote: »
    Phone the number on the summons and say you only received it today. If you pay before the court date they will usually cancel the appearance.
    Gonna call them Monday.

    I hope flatmates haven't been lying to me, I've had enough dishonesty and paid hundreds to cover other people's non payment of bills/tax to last me a decade (at least £700 from the last 2 places).
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It sounds like they have sent reminders, but to one of the flatmates who hasn't bothered doing anything.

    It might be better in future to put someone trustworthy in charge of paying the bills. As Slarti said, it's not a big deal as long as you sort it sooner rather than later.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Namaste wrote: »
    But it was for March-April 2010... Aaages ago. I moved in March 9th 2010.

    You need to flag this to them and check who paid the bill for that year. How many adults were there when you moved in? How many were students?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    You need to flag this to them and check who paid the bill for that year. How many adults were there when you moved in? How many were students?
    4 adults...

    Spoke to flatmate, turns out they sent 3 (she must've been in before I got up and I didn't realised and moved 2 letters), but she hasn't received reminders either. She said she's gonna call them.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Sounds like they are trying to get the money from anyone whom was living there at the time.

    It's worth a call. Unless you can prove it has already been paid then I am sure that they will proceed to court because it covers their risk. I would expect them to give you chance to pay though before sending in the bailiffs.
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