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What happens if you don't pay your Council Tax

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What happens if you don't pay your Council Tax

You must pay your Council Tax when it is due. If you do not pay your Council Tax, we will take action to get the money that is owed. 

If you are unable to pay your Council Tax, you must contact us as soon as possible on 0207 974 6470. You can also visit our support if you can't pay page for information on help available. 

When is your Council Tax due? 

Council Tax is normally payable in 10 monthly instalments between April and January. Payments are due to be received on your account by the 1st of each month if paying by cash, cheque or standing order.   

If you choose to pay your Council Tax by Direct Debit then there is a choice of four dates that we can debit your account, 7th, 15th, 21st or the end of each month.   

If you wish to request instalments until March, please contact us within seven days of receiving your new bill. If your account is in arrears, we may not be able to offer this facility immediately. 

Paying your Council Tax on time ensures arrears are kept to a minimum and that Council Tax is kept as low as possible for everyone. 

Recovery of Council Tax 

  • if you miss paying a Council Tax instalment, a reminder will be sent to you 
  • if you bring your payments up to date but a further instalment is missed, a second reminder will be sent
  • if this is paid but a third instalment is missed, you will have lost the right to pay by instalments, a final notice will be sent and the whole year's bill will be due

You should contact us immediately on 0207 974 6470 if you are unable to make repayment. We may consider making a special arrangement for repayment of arrears at this stage. 

If you fail to make a payment after the issue of a reminder or final notice, or if you fail to maintain a payment arrangement, we will request the Magistrates Court to issue a summons. At this stage court costs of £80.00 will be added to your account.  

At the court hearing we will ask the Magistrates to award us a liability order in our favour at which point a further £15.00 costs will be added to your account.  

A liability order enables us to use one of the following options to collect the Council Tax:  


A summons is a document issued by the Magistrates Court, it asks you to appear before Magistrates at a time and place given on the document. 

The summons will include: 

  • details of the person considered to be liable for the charge 
  • the amount of the charge 
  • date of the charge  
  • the amount of costs that will be requested at the hearing 

A summons can be delivered by posting it to the last known address of the debtor. We do not have to prove that the summons or reminder has been received but only that it has been posted.   

If you receive a summons, details on what to do next will be included with the summons notice.  

If you receive a summons and wish to attend the court hearing you must contact the Council first to arrange an appointment on 0207 974 6414

Liability orders 

A liability order is issued to us by the Magistrates Court following a court hearing and will detail: 

  • who is responsible for the debt  
  • how much it is  
  • what costs have been awarded 
  • date and place of the hearing  

A liability order gives us the following powers:  

  • To request information regarding your work, income, expenditure, and family circumstances. Failure to provide this can lead to a further court appearance and a fine being issued.  
  • Make a request to your employer to make deductions from your earnings.  
  • Make deductions of money from certain types of benefits including Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Universal Credit and Pension Credit.  
  • Refer your debt to our external Enforcement Agents for them to collect payment or take and sell your goods to pay the Council Tax and their costs.  
  • To commence insolvency proceedings if the debt is more than £750.  
  • If all of the above fail, we may also place a charging order on your house. This means that if you try to sell your house the debt will be repaid before the sale can take place.  

Enforcement agents 

If you still have not paid your Council Tax debts after receiving a liability order, an enforcement agent will visit your property. 

We employ two enforcement agent firms to collect Council Tax debt on our behalf: 

Any enforcement agent visiting your property on our behalf will: 

  • carry official identification at all times 
  • carry written authorisation to act on behalf of the council 
  • issue an official receipt for cash payments, and for other payments on request 


There are 3 stages of enforcement, and a cost scale associated with each stage. These fees are set in law and cannot be changed by us or the enforcement agents. 

If the debt is above £1,500 a percentage fee is charged on top of the fixed fee.  

Compliance stage  

Fixed fee: £75 Percentage fee: 0% 

The compliance stage is made up of all activities relating to enforcement, from the time in which the enforcement agent receives instruction to begin this procedure. This is for the time period up to, but not including the enforcement stage. 

Enforcement stage  

Fixed fee: £235 Percentage fee: 7.5% 

The enforcement stage is made up of all activities relating to enforcement instructions, from the first time the agents visit your property to enforce these. This is for the time period up to, but not including the sale or disposal stage. 

Sale or disposal stage  

Fixed fee: £110 Percentage fee: 7.5% 

The sale or disposal stage is made up of all activities relating to enforcement, from the first time the agents visit the property to transport goods to be sold. Or from the first time they visit to prepare to sell goods, if they will be sold at the property. This is for the time period until the sale or disposal is completed. 

Other costs in relation to the removal and sale of the goods, for example auctioneer fees or locksmith fees, may also be recovered. These are known as Disbursement Fees. 


Bankruptcy is a declaration to your creditors that you cannot afford to repay your debt.  

If you owe more than £5,000 in Council Tax, and you have been summoned, we may start bankruptcy or proceedings against you.  

If we take this action, we will pass your account to our solicitors who will send you a statutory demand. A statutory demand gives you 21 days to pay us the full amount.  

If you receive a statutory demand, you should contact our solicitors immediately. Details on how to do this will be on the statutory demand. 

If you do not settle the statutory demand, we will present a petition for bankruptcy to the County Court.  

Local agencies that can help

There are many local organisations that can offer support and guidance if you are struggling financially. Our Camden Advice Network can give advice on money, benefits and debt.