Haven't paid your Council Tax

Information about our recovery and enforcement procedures and what could happen if you don't pay your Council Tax.

What happens if you don't pay your Council Tax?

When you are issued with a Council Tax bill, you have the right to pay in instalments. It is your responsibility to pay your Council Tax instalments on time. Unless you pay by Direct Debit, all Council Tax instalments are due on or before the 1st of the month in which they fall due.

If you don't pay your Council Tax on time, you may lose your right to pay by instalments. This means that the full balance will become due immediately. If this happens, we will issue recovery notices in order to take recovery action against you.

Pay your Council Tax bill now

Read about each stage of the recovery and enforcement process below:

Reminder notice

If an instalment is not paid, a reminder notice will be sent part way through the month in which the missed instalment falls due. You must bring the account up to date by paying any missed instalments within seven days of the date that the reminder notice is issued.

A second reminder will be issued if you pay the amount outstanding on the first reminder and then fail to pay an instalment for a second time. In accordance with the legislation, no more than two reminders will be issued in any tax year. If you fail to pay the outstanding amount on a reminder notice, you will lose your right to pay your Council Tax by instalment. This means that the full balance will become due and recovery action will proceed.

Final notice

When previous reminders have been issued and complied with, but you fall into arrears for a third time, a final notice will be issued. A final notice confirms that you have now lost your right to pay by instalment and that the full balance for the whole year is due.

Escalating through recovery notices in this way is usually due to late Council Tax payments. This can be avoided by setting up a Direct Debit for an alternative payment date. If you are issued with a final notice, please contact us so we can support you to get the account up to date and to set-up a Direct Debit for future payments.

Summons

If you do not comply with either a reminder notice or final notice by paying the required amount we will send you a court summons. The summons will tell you when your case will be listed at court and will also include additional costs which are added to your account immediately.

If you wish to attend court, please note that the following are valid defences for non-payment:

  • If we have not billed you correctly
  • If you've already paid the amount demanded
  • If the Council Tax had not been properly set
  • If there was not a valid entry on the valuation list for the period concerned
  • If we were in breach of the duty to serve notices "as soon as practicable"
  • If the sum outstanding is in respect of a penalty charge which is the subject of an appeal

The following reasons for non-payment payment are not valid defences:

  • Cannot afford to pay
  • Have applied for Council Tax benefits
  • Have appealed against our decision to hold you liable
  • Have appealed to the Valuation Office against your Council Tax band

Once issued with a summons, to avoid your case going to court you must pay in full (including the additional summons costs) before the court date.

If you do not have a valid defence to attend court and are unable to pay in full, please contact us before the court hearing to make a payment arrangement. The payment arrangement will include the additional costs and as long as you keep up with your payment arrangement, we will not take any further recovery action against you.

However, in order to secure the debt, your case will still be listed at the court hearing where we will ask the magistrates to grant a Liability Order and award additional costs. You do not need to attend court.

Once a summons has been issued we can come to a special arrangement with you to clear your arrears and we will consider any offer of payment that you make subject to a Means enquiry form being completed. We will still proceed to gain a Liability Order against you because this secures the council's position in recovering the debt. If we agree to a payment plan, you must keep up with your payments to prevent us from taking further recovery action against you.

You can complete a means enquiry form online.

Liability Order

The Liability Order gives us the power to recover your outstanding Council Tax in the following ways:

  • Deduct money directly from your wages (attachment of earnings order)
  • Take money directly from your benefits (attachment of benefit order)
  • Employ Enforcement Agents (formerly known as bailiffs) to collect the arrears - this will incur further costs
  • Place a Charging Order on your property if you own it and apply to the court for an order of sale
  • Make you bankrupt
  • Start proceedings to send you to prison

Once a Liability Order has been granted at Magistrate's Court we will write to you asking that you provide details of your income, outgoings and employment status. It is a legal requirement to provide this information so you must complete and return the form - failure to do so could result in prosecution. The information you provide will be used to establish an affordable repayment plan with you. Please complete a means enquiry form online.

Once a Liability Order has been granted at Magistrate's Court there is no time limit for collecting the debt.

Enforcement agents (bailiffs)

If we pass your case to our enforcement agents (formerly known as bailiffs), they will add a £75 compliance fee immediately. You must contact the enforcement agency directly to discuss repayment to avoid further fees being added to your account.

Once your case has been passed to the enforcement agent, it will remain with them until the full debt is cleared. If you make payments directly to the council after your case has been passed to the enforcement agency, your case will remain open with them and they'll proceed as normal for the remaining balance, including their fees.

If you do not contact the enforcement agent, they will visit you and upwards of £235 enforcement fee will be added to your account, in addition to the £75 fees already incurred.

You can make a payment arrangement with the enforcement agent at any stage, but you may need to sign a controlled goods agreement. If you do not keep up your payments, they can remove goods from your home.

Fees, charges and disbursements you may incur are set out below:

  • Compliance stage - £75 Fixed Fee
  • Enforcement stage - £235 Fixed Fee
    (in addition 7.5% - percentage of the sum to be recovered if exceeding £1500)
  • Sale of disposal stage - £110 Fixed Fee
    (in addition 7.5% - percentage of the sum to be recovered if exceeding £1500)

You may also incur additional costs for storage of goods, locksmiths, court fees in relation to any applications made by the enforcement agent, exceptional disbursements such as using a specialist removal contractors and the cost of selling your goods.

Enforcement agent contact details

Marstons (previously Rossendales)

Online payments
To pay online, please go to Marston Holdings website that can be found at the bottom of the page.

Automated payment line
To pay through the 24-hour automated payment line, phone 0333 320 1100.

Contact Marstons by phone
To speak to one of the team to make a payment, or to discuss your circumstances, phone 0333 320 1822.
Opening hours are 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm on Saturdays.

Contact Marstons by email
If you haven't found the answer you are looking for on their website, please email them at generalenquiries@marstonholdings.co.uk.

Rundles

Payment Options
For all payment options including secure online portal and automated payment line, please go to Rundles website

Contact Rundles by phone
To speak to one of the team to make a payment, or to discuss your circumstances, call Freephone 0800 0816000
Opening hours are 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 12pm on Saturdays.

Contact Rundles by email
If you haven't found the answer you are looking for on their website, please email them at info@rundles.org.uk or use the online enquiry form.

Prison

If all the previous options fail then a summons may be issued requiring you to attend a committal hearing in the magistrates' court. The Justices will carry out an examination into your conduct and means. If they consider that the money should have been paid, a warrant of commitment may be issued placing you in prison for up to three months. This further action will involve additional costs.