Enforcement agents and your rights

Why are enforcement agents involved in collecting Council Tax?

If you do not pay us we will send you a reminder notice. If you still don't pay we will apply to the magistrates' court for a summons to be issued. At the court hearing we will ask the magistrate to grant a liability order against you for the amount owed including costs. The liability order gives us the legal authority to collect the money you owe. We can use enforcement agents, issue an attachment of earnings order or take money from certain state benefits.

We will use enforcement agents if you do not supply employment or benefit details and agree a payment arrangement. This will add more costs to the amount you have to pay. Once your account has been passed to them you must deal with them directly. You will be sent a letter from us with their contact details.

What do enforcement agents do?

The enforcement agents will send you a letter asking you to pay the money you owe immediately and advising you of the action they will take if you do not contact them. If you do not respond to their letter they will attempt to contact you by phone or email if they have these contact details. If you still do not respond they will visit your property with the view of removing your goods. If goods are removed they will be sold at public auction. This will add even more costs to the amount you have to pay.

Can enforcement agents force entry?

Enforcement agents have the right to come into your property to remove goods by door or normal means of entry as long as they do not use force to get in. If the door is unlocked they can open it. Once they have entered a property they can force doors inside that are locked.

If you have not made payments for a controlled goods agreement and you refuse entry to the enforcement agents so they can remove goods, they will hand deliver a notice of intention to re-enter. This gives 2 clear days' notice after which they can come back and force entry.

What goods cannot be taken?

Legally some goods are protected and cannot be taken. These are:

Removal of goods

You can keep your goods in your property if you sign a controlled goods agreement. This means the enforcement agent has taken control of your goods and you must not remove them from the property. If you do not make your payments as agreed the enforcement agent can return and remove the goods to sell at auction.

It is a criminal offence to intentionally obstruct an enforcement agent or interfere with controlled goods. Either is punishable by up to 51 weeks in prison or a level 4 fine (currently £2,500.00).

What happens to goods that are taken?

Enforcement agents will come to your home and remove goods which are not protected (these can include cars and bikes). They will put them in secure storage before they are sold at a public auction.

What happens if the enforcement agents cannot collect the Council Tax?

If the enforcement agents cannot collect the council tax and there are not enough goods to remove, they will return your case to us. We will decide if we must take committal proceedings against you. A committal summons will be issued against one of the liable persons who must attend court. An enquiry will be held into your financial circumstances together with the reason why you have not paid. You can be sent to prison for up to 90 days. We will also consider if we should make you bankrupt or apply for a charging order on your property if you own it.

What to do if you want to make a complaint:

If you have a complaint about the enforcement agents you should contact their office in the first instance as they have a formal complaints procedure. If you are not happy with the reply you receive you can then contact us:

Telephone: 01327 322166
(8:45am to 9:00pm Monday to Thursday, 8:45am to 4:45pm Friday)
Email: recovery@southnorthants.gov.uk

Contact details

Finance
Email this service
01327 322190

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