What happens if you don't pay your Council Tax

Help with Council Tax payments

Council Tax is used to pay for vital local services.

Contact us as soon as possible if you are struggling to pay or are behind with your payments. There are a number of ways we may be able to help. Find out more:

Setting up a Direct Debit to pay your Council Tax ensures you never miss a payment. Find out more, and about other ways to pay:

If you miss Council Tax payments

If you miss a payment, and have not contacted us, we will send you a reminder notice giving you 7 days to pay. If within 7 days you have not paid the outstanding amount or advised us that you are having difficulty paying then you'll be asked to pay the whole year's Council Tax instead of continuing paying by instalments.

If you miss another Council Tax payment, you'll be sent a second reminder notice.

We'll only send a maximum of two reminder notices in a financial year - this runs from 1st April to 31st March of the next year.

If you miss a payment for the third time, we will send you a final notice saying you must pay the whole year's Council Tax.

If you miss a payment or are struggling to pay, please get in contact with us as soon as possible. There are a number of ways we may be able to help.

Note: If you have not contacted us to make payment arrangements or followed our advice and paid your Council Tax within 7 days we may take legal action to get the Council Tax you owe. We are here to help, so please make contact before this happens.

Legal action may result in a Court summons.

If we issue you with a court summons

If we have to send you a court summons, our costs will be added to the amount you owe.

If you receive a court summons:

  • you can stop court action if you pay the full amount, including costs, before the court date
  • if you cannot pay the full amount, please contact us immediately. We will discuss your options with you. Some cost may still be added to the amount you owe
  • if you do not think you are liable for the payments, please contact us in writing immediately, stating the reasons why
  • we will then investigate

Liability orders

We will ask the court for a 'liability order' on the day of the court hearing. This is a legal demand for payment. Court costs will be added to the amount you owe.

This means we can:

  • get your employer to pay your unpaid Council Tax directly from your wages
  • ask for money to be taken from your benefits
  • send bailiffs (enforcement agents) to make a payment arrangement or seize your property

Once we have a liability order, we will send you a form asking for details about your income and spending.

You will then have 14 days to do one of the following:

  • pay the outstanding amount in full, including added costs
  • contact us to discuss your payment plan options
  • complete the request for information form and return it to us

If after 14 days you don't contact us or pay the full amount you owe, we will ask enforcement agents (bailiffs) to collect the debt on our behalf.

Bailiffs (enforcement agents)

If we have to ask bailiffs (enforcement agents) to collect the debt on our behalf, a compliance fee of £75 will be added to the amount you owe.

The bailiffs will contact you to try to make a payment arrangement. If they cannot contact you, they may visit your home. Bailiffs costs of £235 will be added to the amount you owe if they come and visit your home.

They will write to you before they visit your home.

You can avoid a bailiff visiting your home by paying the money you owe. It's therefore really important you contact us as soon as possible if you have missed payments so we can discuss your options.

You can find out more about how enforcement agents can collect debts here:

Further action that can be taken

Further action can be taken if you don't pay us the amount you owe, and a bailiff has not been able to recover enough property to cover it. This can include:

  • taking insolvency action against you (either personally or corporately)
  • placing a charging order against your property so the amount you owe is paid when the property is sold in the future
  • taking you to court - you can be sent to prison for up to 3 months

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Page last updated: 11 April 2023

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