Council Tax information about Bailiffs
Bailiffs will come to your property when the council holds a Council Tax Liability Order for outstanding Council Tax.
What happens when a bailiff visits my home?
Bailiffs will carry written authorisation from the council, which you can ask to see. The bailiff will try to obtain full payment from you, including fees.
If you cannot make full payment, they can take possession of your goods with a value of up to the amount owed. This is known as “levying distress”.
There are three options for the bailiff if you do not pay in full:
The bailiff lets the goods stay in your property, providing you make an arrangement to pay, or until the goods can be removed. If you do not keep up the payments, the bailiff will return and remove the goods.
The bailiff stays with the goods until payment is made, or until the goods can be removed.
The bailiff actually removes goods from the property. Once removed, goods are sold at public auction to pay the council tax that is owed.
Usually, goods sold at auction will not realise the amount of money you may have paid for them.
There will be additional costs involved with this process including the costs of removal, storage and the auctioneer’s fees.
What can the bailiff take?
Bailiffs can only remove goods belonging to the person named on the liability order and they cannot remove certain goods. These include:
- Fixtures and fittings
- Tools, books, vehicles and other equipment that is necessary for your personal use for work
- Food, clothes, bedding, furniture, and household equipment that is necessary to meet basic needs of you and your family.
What happens if I can’t pay and I don’t have many possessions?
If the bailiffs cannot find enough goods to cover the amount owed, or if they cannot gain entry to the property, they will tell the council.
The council will then have no choice but to take another course of action such as:
- Putting a charge on your property – If this is done, the council can force you to sell your property and pay off the council tax debt plus interest out of any money left after the mortgage has been repaid.
- Apply to make you bankrupt
- Apply to the magistrates’ court for your committal to prison
What if I’m not in when the bailiff calls?
If you are not in when the bailiff calls, he will leave his contact details. You should either pay in full including the costs or contact the bailiff to arrange another visit.
Will I have to pay costs to the bailiff?
Yes, bailiffs are entitled to make charges, in addition to the unpaid council tax. The charges will depend on how long you wait before paying or making an arrangement with the bailiff.
The more times bailiffs have to visit, the more costs you will incur - please see information on the bailiff fees.
How can I make a complaint about the bailiff?
We monitor the Bailiff's performance on a continual basis, to ensure that the Bailiff is working within the terms and conditions of our contract. We have a bailiff code of practice in place.
This is in addition to the Bailiff's own code of practice and lays down the guidelines and procedures that the bailiff is required to follow.
If you think the Bailiff has done anything wrong, you can complain to the council.