Letter from Local authority regarding my complaint

Tell us how you beat the bailiffs.
Post Reply
omena
Posts: 4
Joined: 16 Mar 2016 11:45

#1 Letter from Local authority regarding my complaint

Post by omena » 16 Mar 2016 16:15

Hi,

The attachment will explain my predicament.

I had set up an standing order with my bank for the money to leave my account the first of every month. The first I knew about the Whyte & Co not receiving the payments for January and February was when I received a letter from the bailiff stating they had come to my property to remove goods unless I made a full payment of the council tax arrears.

After hours of tooing and froing between my bank and Whyte & Co, it uncovered that the bank was at fault for the payments not being made. I'm sure you won't be surprised by the nonchalant (to the point of rude and I don't care) response I received from Whyte & Co. I set up the standing order in good faith so I would not have to worry about the payments leaving my account. I work full time and I am also a full time carer so have enough on my plate!

I wrote a letter to my local authority contesting the £110 charge - the bailiff attended my property but nothing was taken as I was not at home at the time.

They investigated my compliant and came to the conclusion that Whyte & Co have the right to charge me the fee of £110. From the small research I've done they can't charge the fee as they did not enter my property to remove goods. Therefore making the fee charge redundant.

Can someone possibly provide me advice as to whether is ruling is correct and if I can contest the decision. If I can contest I will do so and escalate the matter beyond the local authority.

Mark1960
Posts: 3813
Joined: 20 Mar 2013 11:36

#2 Re: Letter from Local authority regarding my complaint

Post by Mark1960 » 16 Mar 2016 16:36

I presume that the bailiffs had previously attended?

Did you enter into a controlled goods agreement when they came originally?

You most definitely can contest the decision but it depends on the status of your goods currently. If none were under the control of the bailiff, then I don't believe that the £110 was chargeable.

As a matter of interest, do you own a vehicle?

User avatar
Pote Snitkin
The Watcher
Posts: 6472
Joined: 28 Apr 2014 09:43
Location: In your loft, waiting

#3 Re: Letter from Local authority regarding my complaint

Post by Pote Snitkin » 16 Mar 2016 16:53

On what grounds did the council conclude the £110 was due?
On 29/07/17, Compo said "If you are interested I actually typed the word label. My spell checker interpreted it as liable" Discuss.

omena
Posts: 4
Joined: 16 Mar 2016 11:45

#4 Re: Letter from Local authority regarding my complaint

Post by omena » 18 Mar 2016 06:06

Hi Mark1960

Yes the bailiffs attended my property sometime in November of last year. Since then I've done my research and realised I shouldn't have let them into my property and signed a controlled goods agreement. I wanted to do the right thing plus their scare tactics make you panic. I wanted to get this matter resolved.

No I don't own a vehicle. I own nothing of any value that would clear the arrears so threatening to take my goods to sell at auction is pointless and I don't have the money to clear it either.

omena
Posts: 4
Joined: 16 Mar 2016 11:45

#5 Re: Letter from Local authority regarding my complaint

Post by omena » 18 Mar 2016 06:08

Hi Pote Snitkin

Due to two missed payments for January and February the conclude that the £110 fee charged is correct and therefore should be upheld. I find the whole thing very suspect.

Mark1960
Posts: 3813
Joined: 20 Mar 2013 11:36

#6 Re: Letter from Local authority regarding my complaint

Post by Mark1960 » 18 Mar 2016 08:20

Having signed the agreement, places you at a disadvantage. We can have a go at getting it removed but I can't guarantee it.

What date did they visit?
What have they done since?
Are you still paying instalments?
Have they told you that they want the whole amount in full?
Do you still have all the paperwork from the agreement?
What items have been listed?

omena
Posts: 4
Joined: 16 Mar 2016 11:45

#7 Re: Letter from Local authority regarding my complaint

Post by omena » 19 Mar 2016 19:02

Hi Mark1960
I agree! If only I'd known what i know now I would have not dealt with the agency and made the payments without their involvement. I was and am trying to do the right thing.

In answer to your questions:
Last visited 26th Feb
Nothing - left a threatening letter on red paper stating they would seine my property for sale at auction unless i paid the full amount.
Yes I am making the payments - I've removed the standing order I set up with my bank (due to their incompetence) and have set myself a reminder to pay the £100 to Whyte&Co via my banking app.
Yes see my previous response - but since I took charge of the payment and paid £100 to the agency in march they have left me alone. No further visits/threatening letters.
Items listed:
TV
TV stand

User avatar
Schedule 12
Posts: 13102
Joined: 30 Jul 2012 21:23
Location: London WC2
Contact:

#8 Re: Letter from Local authority regarding my complaint

Post by Schedule 12 » 19 Mar 2016 20:08

omena wrote:
I wrote a letter to my local authority contesting the £110 charge - the bailiff attended my property but nothing was taken as I was not at home at the time.
The correct procedure to dispute the £110 sale stage fee when no goods have been removed, is by applying for a detailed assessment hearing.

There is a fee, but that is passed on to the council, who passes it on to Whyte & Co.

You can even have a solicitor do it for you and it won't cost a bean. Contact me if you would like to start work.
Run this Checklist. If no joy, then we'll fix it
Author: dealingwithbailiffs.co.uk

Mark1960
Posts: 3813
Joined: 20 Mar 2013 11:36

#9 Re: Letter from Local authority regarding my complaint

Post by Mark1960 » 19 Mar 2016 22:22

Unfortunately, a detailed assessment is no good to man nor beast when it comes to contesting a sale fee that may be added from the very start of the operation, regardless of whether goods are sold or not.

Jason-If there is a fee involved and you are so confident of the outcome, you really need to do this kind of stuff on a no win, no fee basis. This is someone who is struggling to pay council tax-It is not one of your "won't pay" PCN brigade.

Omega-The very last thing you want to do is to go down Jasons "detailed assessment" route. Jason is very good at promising debtors the earth when it comes to costs being awarded by a judge. To date, his clients are many thousands of pounds out of pocket thanks to his advice. The only person in pocket is Jason himself, who never looses. Funnily enough though, its never Jasons fault-Its always the debtors fault or the judges fault.

I strongly recommend that you ignore Jason and try a complaint to the council with my guidance. I will draft you a very strong complaint that will take you all the way through to the Ombudsman if you wish.

I need to know:

1. How much is outstanding on the debt
2. How much was the debt originally for
3.You should have been left the following forms:
a controlled goods agreement
A notice after taking control of goods
An inventory of goods controlled.

Within these 3 forms, there should be separate columns that the bailiff will have (or at least should have) filled in. Has he filled them in individually or has he just written one statement across the whole lot?

One column should be for a description of goods-What has he put?
One column should be for the manufacturer (if known) what has he put?
One column should be for the model-What has he put?
One column should be for the serial number-What has he put?
One column should be for the colour and usage of the goods-What has he put?

In addition, the inventory should include a column that requires the bailiff to list any co-owners of the goods. What has he put?

If you can let me know the answers to all of these asap, I will draft you a complaint to send to the council.

User avatar
Schedule 12
Posts: 13102
Joined: 30 Jul 2012 21:23
Location: London WC2
Contact:

#10 Re: Letter from Local authority regarding my complaint

Post by Schedule 12 » 20 Mar 2016 09:56

Mark1960 wrote:Unfortunately, a detailed assessment is no good to man nor beast when it comes to contesting a sale fee that may be added from the very start of the operation, regardless of whether goods are sold or not.

Jason-If there is a fee involved and you are so confident of the outcome, you really need to do this kind of stuff on a no win, no fee basis. This is someone who is struggling to pay council tax-It is not one of your "won't pay" PCN brigade.
The client doesn't pay anything except the £50 court fee. The council pays the £1450 +VAT costs which includes my fee plus the £50 court fee. The £50 is the N244 fee. Its only £50 because Part 84.16 does not require the notice to be given to the council or bailiff company.

In the case of a sale stage fee dispute. The goods seized must be a vehicle, and the bailiff turned up in a van or a car and charged a £110 sale stage fee.

The client does need to have paid the fee. The bailiff only makes the charge.

He does not need to tell the bailiff company he is making the application. They don't learn of until after the order is made and gets the bill from the council. However, the council can appeal within 21 days and prove the bailiff attended with appropriate transport to take the vehicle.

If there is no bodycam footage, the appeal will fail. Bailiffs are expected to use their bodycams.

I don't recommend a member of the public doing a detailed assessment hearing. Solicitors fees are recoverable. A solicitor will only execute the claim if it is winnable.

All are on no-win-no fee. If a solicitor does not accept the evidence, then the claim will not go ahead.

Detailed assessment hearings are nothing to do with "cant pay" or wont pay". It only examines whether the enforcement fees have been correctly applied according to the regulations using a set of criteria listed in part 84.16(a to e). My personal favourite is (c) for Newlyn cases. Guaranteed win everytime.
Run this Checklist. If no joy, then we'll fix it
Author: dealingwithbailiffs.co.uk

Mark1960
Posts: 3813
Joined: 20 Mar 2013 11:36

#11 Re: Letter from Local authority regarding my complaint

Post by Mark1960 » 20 Mar 2016 10:12

Goods do not have to be seized in order for a sale fee to be charged. The fee is chargeable as soon as the bailiff visits the property for the purpose of removing goods to the place of sale. Technically, the fee is chargeable and a DA will not find in the debtors favour-It can't.

We need to complain in this case, question the intent and throw technicalities back at them. If they want to play this by the letter of the law, they need to be sure that the levy has been carried out to the letter of the law. If those forms haven't been filled out correctly, I would argue that the levy was never completed. This all needs to be done through the complaint system though.

Omega-Also.

How old is the TV?
How much was it new?
Is the stand just a basic stand or is it expensive?
Are they definitely the only 2 items listed?

User avatar
Schedule 12
Posts: 13102
Joined: 30 Jul 2012 21:23
Location: London WC2
Contact:

#12 Re: Letter from Local authority regarding my complaint

Post by Schedule 12 » 20 Mar 2016 10:46

Mark1960 wrote:Goods do not have to be seized in order for a sale fee to be charged.
That doesn't sit right with P.13(1) of Schedule 12.
Run this Checklist. If no joy, then we'll fix it
Author: dealingwithbailiffs.co.uk

Mark1960
Posts: 3813
Joined: 20 Mar 2013 11:36

#13 Re: Letter from Local authority regarding my complaint

Post by Mark1960 » 20 Mar 2016 10:51

Sorry, I didn't put that very well. The goods were already seized, as per 13(1)

I meant that on the return visit, the bailiff doesn't have to touch or remove the (already) controlled goods. In this case, the OP wasn't even in, so the bailiff did not enter the premises.

The fact that the bailiff visited with the intent (so he says) of removing the goods is enough to qualify the sale fee. You can't argue against that at an interpleader

User avatar
Schedule 12
Posts: 13102
Joined: 30 Jul 2012 21:23
Location: London WC2
Contact:

#14 Re: Letter from Local authority regarding my complaint

Post by Schedule 12 » 20 Mar 2016 11:10

It's not an interpleader claim.

It's a detailed assessment hearing, but it's too weak to be considered.
Run this Checklist. If no joy, then we'll fix it
Author: dealingwithbailiffs.co.uk

Mark1960
Posts: 3813
Joined: 20 Mar 2013 11:36

#15 Re: Letter from Local authority regarding my complaint

Post by Mark1960 » 20 Mar 2016 11:22

Yes I know, that's what I've been telling you.

A couple of old friends of mine had success back in 2010 against Omega Logic. I might give one of them a call for more details. I'm pretty sure that both would recommend the complaint procedure though in this case.

Mark1960
Posts: 3813
Joined: 20 Mar 2013 11:36

#16 Re: Letter from Local authority regarding my complaint

Post by Mark1960 » 16 Apr 2016 08:14

A bit of good news in this case. Omena has managed to get the sale fee removed. She has kindly agreed to allow us to show the complaint and the councils response, so that others in a similar situation may benefit.

Complaint:
Formal Complaint-Stage 2

Dear Sir/Madam

Further to my recent complaint regarding enforcement fees, I regret to inform you that I am not happy with the councils response. I now wish to bring the matter to your attention in the form of a Stage 2 Complaint. I am aware that many authorities simply pass these complaints over to their agents for their observations. I would very much appreciate it if you would also consider my points personally.

I was visited by bailiffs regarding council tax arrears in November 2015. I wanted to do the right thing and I wanted to get the matter resolved without further complications. The bailiff advised me that I would be permitted to enter into a repayment plan, but only on the condition that I allowed him to enter my property and list items that I agreed could be controlled. I did as the bailiff asked.

Unfortunately, there appears to have been problems with my bank and I was unaware that payments had not been met. The first I knew about this mix up was in the form of a letter from the bailiffs (Whyte & Co) stating that they had visited to remove goods and that a further charge of £110 had been implemented. I have since carried out extensive research of my own and it is clear to me that the £110 fee should not have been added. The reasons are detailed below. I apologise in advance for the length of this complaint but my points and reasons are numerous and are all valid.

1. Value of goods controlled
The total items taken into control were three. They consist of a TV set, at TV stand and a lamp. The re-sale value of both the lamp and the TV stand is £0. For point of argument, I will generously give a value of £20 for each. The TV is around 8 years old. I purchased it several years ago for £300. This type of item traditionally fetches a very low return when sold at auction. I have today checked on Ebay and a similar model of around the same age is being advertised for £50. I will again be generous, and for point of argument, will place an auction value of £100 on the TV. This places a very generous value of £140 for the three items, assuming that they all sell. Out of this figure, £75 would go straight to Whytes for their compliance fee. £21 would go to the auctioneers for their commission. In addition, there would be the auctioneers out of pocket expenses to be paid, which would include storing the goods and undertaking electrical safety checks on the TV and lamp. Finally, there would be a sum to be set aside to cover the cost of advertising the sale. In total, any sale by auction of the goods would not bring in a penny towards recovering a sum of money to satisfy the original debt. Section 62(1) of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 states clearly that the reason to control goods is to sell them in order to recover a sum of money. Goods should not be controlled and sold, simply to recover a compliance fee. The Taking Control of Goods National Standards also states at item 66 that the value of goods controlled should be proportionate to the value of the debt and the fees owed-Not just the fees.

2. Taking Control Was Not Completed
The fee for visiting a debtor is virtually ten times that of what it was two years ago. Part of the reason for this is because there is a requirement placed on a bailiff to thoroughly and properly identify goods that are seized (controlled). Regulations provide for detailed paperwork to be filled in. Both the controlled goods agreement form and the Notice of recorded. The serial number is clearly marked. There is a reason why Parliament has listed this information as a requirement. How can the bailiff possibly identify a “black” TV if he returns? I could put any old junk in its place and it could not be proven otherwise. In addition, when filling out the inventory form, the bailiff is required to ascertain if there are any co-owners of the goods. Again, this has been ignored by the bailiff and again, there was very good reason why Parliament have added this condition. Given the ridiculously low auction value of the items seized, it was all the more important to establish if there were any co-owners.

3. Sale Fee Not Activated
Even if the goods were of sufficient value and the controlling was complete, it is highly unlikely that the sale stage was ever activated. In order for it to have been, the bailiff must have visited with an intent to remove the goods to a place of sale. I think we both know that there was never any intent to remove such a low value stock to an auctioneers. The fact that nearly a month later, there has been no further attempt (I suspect this is because there can be no further fee added) and that Dukes seem more than happy to continue accepting repayments as per the agreement prior to the banking problems reinforces this notion. There seems to have been no purpose or lasting result from Dukes last visit, other than to add £110 to the account. Nothing has changed. What was the point of visiting?


This case is a classic example of a bailiff taking short cuts in order to maximise fees. Legislation has been breached and I am the one who is suffering because of this. I ask you personally to consider the reasonableness of Dukes actions. I also ask that all enforcement action is placed on hold whilst this matter is being investigated. Should you be either unwilling or unable to uphold my complaint, could you please let me know at your earliest convenience and also confirm that I would then be free to take the matter to the LGO

Finally, as I am in full time employment, I wish to ask whether an attachment of earnings was considered in my case and if so, why was it not put in place.

Thanking you in advance

Omena

Response:
Dear Ms xxxxxxx,

RE: Stage 1 complaint review – Bailiff action regarding property Address: xx xxxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxxx xxx xxx

I am sorry to see that you feel the need to escalate your complaint, as you remain dissatisfied with the response provided by our Council Tax and Benefits Team to you on this matter.

You have raised your concerns at the bailiffs actions as you were visited by bailiffs regarding council tax arrears in November 2015. The bailiff advised you that you would be permitted to enter into a repayment plan, but only on the condition that you allowed him to enter your property and list items that you agreed could be controlled. An agreement plan was entered with Whyte & Co but unfortunately, there appears to have been problems with your bank as you were unaware that payments for January and February had not been met. The first you knew about this mix up was in the form of a letter from the bailiffs (Whyte & Co) stating that they had visited to remove goods and that a further charge of £110 had been implemented. You have since carried out extensive research of your own and you believe that the £110.00 fee should not have been added. You outlined 3 specific reasons in some detail of why you feel this was incorrect.

Investigation
In response to the bailiff’s issue with the notifications sent you, I have asked our Council tax Team to liaise with Whyte & Co and request comments regarding your questions raised around their actions.

My Understanding is that Whyte & Co have confirmed that no goods have been taken from your property. The reason for their visit was because you had missed two monthly payments scheduled for January and February and as such, you had broken your agreement with them.

Records show that you made payment on the following dates

02/12/2015
01/03/2016
04/04/2016

Below is the reply to your questions that you raised:

Value of goods controlled
It is not disputed that the value of the items taken into control is low. The Enforcement Agent (EA) advises to the best of his recollection (bearing in mind that he took control of the goods in November) the debtor occupies a very small flat and there was nothing else that could be taken control off. However, your comments about the cost of selling the goods are highly inaccurate. Whyte & Co would not use auctioneers to store or sell small household items such as these. They store them and sell them on e-bay and the Regulations allow a commission of 7.5% only, for on-line sales. There would be no storage, out of pocket expenses or costs of advertising the sale and PAT testing costs us £1 per item (auction houses usually charge more). Therefore, whatever the goods might have sold for, close to 92.5% of the proceeds would have been applied to the debt and charges, excluding costs of sale.

Section 62.1 does not state that the reason to take control of goods is to sell them in order to recover a sum of money, although, it makes it clear that the procedure authorises this. The purpose of Taking Control of Goods is to attempt to obtain payment without the need to remove goods, which in the vast majority of cases is achieved by entering into a controlled goods agreement. If the purpose were to sell, the goods there would be no need for controlled goods agreements.

The purpose of Paragraph 66 of the National standards is to ensure that enforcement agents do not take control of goods whose value greatly exceeds the amount outstanding.

Taking Control Was Not Completed
Again, to the best of his recollection, the EA states that the reason a serial number for the TV was not recorded on the controlled goods agreement is that the TV was affixed to the wall (as is frequently the case). Serial numbers are invariably found on the rear of TV’s and it is impossible to record them without removing the TV from the wall. If the EA did this, he would be under no obligation to re-affix it to the wall. Notwithstanding, from the wording of the Regulations, Whyte & Co believe that were this matter to be considered by the Courts they would conclude that it in most cases it is unreasonable, unnecessary and of considerable

inconvenience to the debtor to remove electrical equipment from walls simply to record the serial number. The prescribed form for taking control reads “Serial number (where known)” Also, our EA has not just described the TV as “black” but has recorded the name of the manufacturer.

They also stated that you as the debtor were the only person named on the liability order and apparently the only occupier of the premises. There is no requirement to list any co-owner on the controlled goods agreement and the existence of a co-owner only becomes relevant after goods have been removed for sale.

Sale Fee Not Activated
The controlled goods agreement was for £100 per month to be paid from 1st December 2015. A removal stage visit was made because, as you admit, the January and February payments were not made. If default is made on a controlled goods agreement then further visits are programmed into their workflow procedure and are made automatically. Goods were not removed because the EA obtained no response and the value of the goods did not justify using a locksmith to make forced entry. However, you as the debtor, are not entitled to assume that your goods would not have been removed, had entry been made. Every sale/ disposal stage visit is made with the intention of removing goods but whether or not removal take place, depends on what happens during the visit.

The point at which a sale / disposal stage fee can be charged is open to debate because conflicting advice has been given by different Counsel. CIVEA took Counsels opinion first and were advised that the fee could only be charged if some positive action is taken towards removing goods. Although, it is certainly not necessary for a removal of goods to be completed, the advice was that a removal vehicle needs to be summonsed, or goods loaded onto a vehicle, or some other positive measure taken, other than just attending, to demonstrate the intention to remove. However, following this, one of the largest enforcement agencies was given contrary advice by different Counsel to the effect that the plain wording of the Regulations is that the sale / disposal stage commences from “the first attendance at the property for the purpose of transporting goods to the place of sale” and that consequently all that is required for the fee to be charged, is for the attendance to be made. Whyte &Co therefore have a situation at present where some enforcement agencies rarely charge the sale / disposal fee, in line with CIVEA guidance, and others charge it automatically in every case where an EA attends. Which, if either, of these interpretations is correct will only be established as and when a case comes before the Courts.

The practice adopted by Whyte & Co is somewhere between these two extremes but is much closer to the position adopted by CIVEA. Although, the fee is added automatically by their software on the assumption that a removal will take place, the fee is removed in the vast majority of cases if no positive removal action is taken, or is possible.

This is what has happened in your case and the Sale/Disposal stage Fee of £110.00 has been removed.

Whyte & Co have since advised that you will have to come to some new arrangement with them as the original agreement has been cancelled owing to the two monthly payments. You should therefore contact them as soon as possible as although, it appears that payments were made in March and April, the agreement to do this may not be in place now.

I would not like to see any further visits and would suggest that you contact Whyte & Co as soon as possible.

What you can do if you are unhappy
I hope this response has gone some way to answer your concerns. As a result, I do not uphold your review as the bailiff, Whyte & Co visited you with the intension to remove goods as you had missed two payments as agreed under the payment plan with them. No goods were taken and the £110.00 Sale/Disposal fee has now been removed from your account but I would suggest that you contact them at your earliest convenience regarding the payment plan.

This investigation and reply is the final stage of our complaints procedure, so I hope that you are happy with the action we have taken and that you now consider this matter resolved.

However, if you remain unhappy with us and want to take this matter further then you should write to the Local Government Ombudsman at:

The Local Government Ombudsman

PO Box 4771
Coventry CV4 0EH
Fax: 024 7682 0001

A point worth noting here-Omena was livid that the bailiff stated that the TV was mounted on the wall. She has never had a TV mounted on the wall It is pretty obvious that this is true because one of the items controlled was a TV stand. We should be aware of this lie in future, if bailiffs try to excuse their bone idleness when filling out forms.

User avatar
Amy
Admin
Posts: 4060
Joined: 22 Jul 2012 22:47

#17 Re: Letter from Local authority regarding my complaint

Post by Amy » 19 Apr 2016 13:35

Moving to "Successes"

Post Reply