Once a debt has been assigned to an Enforcement Agent (EA) you will need to discuss your debt with them. If you try to speak to the council about it, you'll be redirected back to the EA company, in most cases.
An EA can visit your home and has a right to peaceful entry. They cannot force entry unless they have a signed Control of Goods Agreement. They have the power to remove certain goods to clear the debt, if you are not able to pay in full. If you are a tenant EAs cannot remove goods belonging to your landlord, but proof of ownership will need to be supplied.
We may consider taking the debt back from the EA if we have evidence that you are vulnerable. Information on vulnerability can be found in the Council Tax Collection and Recovery Policy statement.
A person is considered vulnerable if he or she:
- understands the proceedings, but there are extenuating circumstances, such as a recent bereavement in the family.
- has a physical or mental disability or difficulty understanding the English language. This means they cannot defend themselves. If this is the case we will point them in the direction of support, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.
What can EA charge for?
To find out, download our 'What Enforcement Agents can charge for' factsheet.
What happens if the EA can't collect the money?
The EA will return the case back to the council if:
- they couldn't collect the debt; and
- you have insufficient goods to sell to clear the debt
In such instances the council can refer your case back to the Magistrates' Court. At the hearing you'll have to show why you have not paid your Council Tax.
The Magistrates could:
- make a court order against you
- order the council to cancel part of all of the Council Tax owed
- issue a warrant for your arrest
- send you to prison.
At court your case will be heard. If the court concludes that your failure to pay was willful refusal or culpable neglect, you could go to prison for up to three months.