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What Happens if I Don’t Pay my Council Tax Arrears?

If you are struggling to pay your council tax arrears, it can be a daunting and confusing prospect, particularly if you’re not aware of the process going forward. Sometimes, simply knowing what could happen in a situation can help put your mind at ease which is why we’ve put together a post with information on what can happen if you don’t pay your council tax arrears.

If you have failed to pay your council tax arrears and haven’t reached an agreement with your council, your council may apply for a liability order from the local magistrates’ court. A liability order is a court order which states that you must pay back the entire amount of council tax owed for that year and not just the arrears. This liability order gives the council the right to take action against you in order to receive their payment.

You will then be sent a summons which is a court document telling you how much you owe the council and the details of the hearing. Before the hearing, we advise that you contact your local council and try to arrange a repayment plan as you won’t be able to do this at the hearing. If the prospect of trying to reach an agreement with your council is daunting, we can mediate between you and your council to negotiate a repayment plan on your behalf.

If you choose not to discuss the matter with your council, you will have to attend a liability order hearing where, if it is decided that you are responsible for paying the council tax, a number of actions may take place. If a liability order is made the council can send bailiffs to your home, instruct your employer to decrease your earnings, or apply for a charging order which gives them the power to sell your property, among other actions.

With this in mind, discussing your payments with your council is the simplest way to avoid further action being taken against you. There can be various outcomes from negotiating a repayment plan with your council – your council may agree to allow you to pay off your debts in manageable instalments, for example. If an agreement is reached, the council could cancel your court hearing.

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