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WHO WE ARE

Council Tax Advisors are a not for profit community interest company specialising in council tax arrears and sheriff officer enforcement matters. All our advice and practical help is free of charge.

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Man 16

“I would like to thank Council Tax Advisors for all their valuable help. Within a week or so of completing the form I returned my case was resolved. We are so happy now and I no I myself could not of got a end to this as swift as you made it. Many many thanks.”
Terry

Advice

Advice on
SHERIFF OFFICERS

Once you receive a summary warrant, you are no longer dealing with the council so you should contact Walker Love. Sheriff Officers using the details provided on the warrant to arrange payment. In addition to the debt that you owe for council tax arrears, you will find you have also been charged a court fee, which is usually an automatic penalty of 10% when the warrant was granted.

At this point, you should try and come to an arrangement to pay back your council tax arrears in small, but regular instalments if you can. The Sheriff Officers will almost certainly want to see a budget that details your income and your outgoings to set up payments by this method.

If you receive income support, pension credit or jobseeker’s allowance, payments can be made directly from these. The Sheriff Officers will need your national insurance to set this up.

At some point you may be asked to provide details of your employer and banking arrangements. They may even want to find out the details of anyone else who was liable to pay the council tax bill to try and obtain payment from them. If you do not provide the information you may receive a fine.

At this point, the council will go back to the court and obtain a charge for payment. This is a formal notice that you have 14 days to pay your arrears or the Sheriff Officers are granted powers to obtain the money you owe by one of several different means.

Wages arrestment – that is, taking payments directly from your salary

Freezing bank accounts

Removing money directly from your bank account

Entering your home and taking possessions that would amount to what you owe when sold

If you are still unable to pay what you owe, a Sheriff Officer will pursue one or more of the options listed above to obtain payment for the debt depending on what information you have provided them with in the past.

Walker Love should only enter your home if they have the right documents. They don’t have the right to enter whenever they choose, no matter what they may say. The said truth is, some Sheriff Officers say and do whatever they can to force you to pay and that can mean turning up without official court documents and try to blag their way into your home.

To enter your home Sheriff Officers must have a court-generated exceptional attachments order that gives them the authority to enter your home and collect payment or goods they estimate will cover the debt you owe once they are sold. The correct document will contain a phrase along the lines of ‘grants warrant for all lawful execution’.

WHAT IF THEY DON’T HAVE THE EXCEPTIONAL ATTACHMENTS ORDER?

Don’t let them in. That simple. You don’t even have to open the door to them if you are worried. It is perfectly legal for you to talk to the Sheriff Officers through the door, a window or letterbox if you do not feel comfortable opening the door to talk to them. In fact, we recommend you do this, but if you want to open the door make sure you have a chain on to prevent it from being pushed open. It also wise to ensure you do not have any unlocked door, as it is legal for a Sheriff Officer to enter through an unlocked door.

GAINING ENTRY BY ‘REASONABLE FORCE’ (AND JUST WHAT IS ‘REASONABLE’?)

An exceptional attachments order allows the Sheriff Officers to use reasonable force to enter your home to collect possessions that can be sold to pay the debt. Generally speaking, the Sheriff Officers will attempt this only when they have failed to obtain arrestment of your salary or benefits first.

There are very strict rules about what constitutes reasonable force.

A Sheriff Officer CAN gain entry by:
  • Breaking the lock or hinges of a door open
  • Forcing a gate open
  • Cutting through a padlock and chain
  • Breaking down a vehicle barrier.
A Sheriff Officer CANNOT gain entry by:
  • Pushing anyone out of the way
  • Getting in through an open window
  • Breaking a window to get in
  • Taking up floorboards to access part of your property
  • Climbing over a fence or wall.

An exceptional attachment for debt can only take place between 8am and 8pm Monday to Saturday, but never on a Sunday or Bank Holiday, and you must be given seven days notice. In addition, there must be someone over the age of 16 present in the house who understands what is happening, so if the resident does not understand English or is physically or mentally disabled the Sheriff Officers cannot go ahead.

However, you need to be aware that if you have possessions outside of your property, such as a vehicle or pushbike, Sheriff Officers can seize it for sale without an exceptional attachment order.

Old man 5

“I would like to say I found the service not only excellent, but the helpfulness and speed it was done at was fantastic. I was also delighted with the manner in which I was kept updated with the situation and in general I couldn't be happier with the help I received. Yours thankfully”
Gary Cowan

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