Introduction of fixed Enforcement Agent (bailiff) fees
The Government has introduced The Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013, to deal with public concerns over unregulated fees that debtors incurred once their unpaid debts were passed to a Bailiff firm for collection. The new regulations address the lack of transparency that there was regarding fees incurred prior to its introduction, by making Enforcement Agents accountable for their actions and any fees charged. As part of the changes bailiffs are now known as Enforcement Agents (EA). The term bailiff will no longer be used in our communications
How will this affect you if your Council Tax account is referred to an Enforcement Agent for collection?
- Your council tax account will only ever be referred to the EA for collection if
the Council has exhausted all recovery options available to it and issued you with
a summons. If a liability order has then been obtained at Highbury Corner Magistrates’
Court and you have failed to contact the Council to make a payment arrangement to
discharge what’s outstanding, you will be issued with a Liability Order Notification
letter. This is the very last contact that you’ll receive from the Council regarding
the debt outstanding and it requests information from you.
- You have 14 days to respond to this letter, in which time if you have failed to
make payment in full, agree a payment arrangement or provide the information requested,
the Council is entitled to issue your account to the EA for collection.
- Once your account is referred to the EA, this will be known as the Compliance
stage and you will automatically incur a £75.00 fee. You now have 16 clear days in
which you must contact the EA and make a payment arrangement with them. Regardless
of the size of the debt, provided you make contact and stick to the payment arrangement
agreed with them, no additional fees can be incurred by you. The EA will use several
methods to instigate contact with you at this stage, including e-mailing, writing
& telephoning. They cannot add any additional fees at this stage
and it is a £75.00 fee per liability order that they have been issued
with, regardless of how many are held by the Council against you.
- If you fail to make contact or agree to a payment arrangement during this period
then the next stage is Enforcement. This results in an additional
£235.00 fee being added to your account and is only triggered by the EA’s attendance
at your home. The EA will be entitled to enforce on the liability order and remove
your possessions. The EA can only levy one £235.00 fee against you,
regardless of the numbers of liability orders held against you. Provided the debt
does not exceed £1500 (exclusive of fees) there are no additional charges raised against
you. If it does, the EA can levy an additional 7.5% charge on anything over
£1500. (i.e. a £2000 debt, a 7.5% levy can be made on £500)
- If you fail to make an arrangement to pay the EA or settle the debt in full and the removal of your possessions takes place the next stage is Sale or Disposal. This comprises of all activities from their first attendance at the property for the purpose of transporting your possessions to a place of sale or disposal. The fee for this is £110.00, plus 7.5% of the aggregated balance of the debt, again exceeding £1500.00 (excluding fees). This action must have first been authorised by the Council.