Equita Letter

Quash the Liability Order. Suspend Enforcement. Disputing Liabilities. Claim Damages for Misuse of Enforcement Power.
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jam4brains
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#1 Equita Letter

Post by jam4brains » 19 Mar 2017 01:33

I am new to this forum and have sat reading extensively this evening as I have tried to fathom out the best way to proceed with the following problem:

Yesterday morning I received an ENFORCEMENT NOTICE from Equita advising me that I owed £766.49 and to contact the bailiff immediately. Its actually £478.70 but the rest is costs.

It came through the door very early, but I was up and I actually watched it hit the mat, before hearing a motorcycle speed away.

I have been pretty ill over the past few months, so I have been claiming ESA, but I am well enough to work now so am looking for a new job at the moment. But as far as I knew all my bills were up to date and I honestly had absolutely no knowledge what the demand was for!

I called the bailiff and asked him and he gruffly said 'it's council tax'. So I told him that my council tax was up to date and I didn't know what he was talking about. He then said 'well I don't know, speak to the council'.

So, after several attempts to call Westminster Council......pain in the arse automated service, that sends you round in circles for ages then cuts you off! ....Finally I manage to speak to someone who informs me that it's for the years 2011/12 and 2012/13, and for a previous address. I have lived here for almost 3 years now, so its obviously my old house :roll: .

He also advised me that the court date was the 22nd December 2015, and he couldn't understand why the bailiff was suddenly chasing it now?? :?

This made me think that maybe they can't suddenly start pursuing me for something I had no knowledge of, and that is soooo old?? So, this evening I have discovered that I am right, and I have paid the £15 for the templates and printed off the section 'Bailiff Enforcing a debt more than 12 months old'. ....Thanks very much for this! :D You guys are such life savers!

If I have this right, it seems that I can lodge a 'section 14 statutory declaration', which basically says that I had no prior knowledge of the debt at the time the enforcement notice arrived, and i have to have this signed and sent by recorded delivery.

But, is this all I can and should do? and please can you confirm that I have understood it all and got my facts straight before I go ahead and do it?
- I was planning to go through all the old council tax bills from the old house, as I am sure they are in the loft somewhere, so that I can work out if I actually do owe anything. If it does emerge that I do then obviously I am happy to make arrangements to pay it off. But it would be nice if it could be written off, and save me the hassle of looking through piles of paperwork from years ago! lol

Many thanks in advance for any help or pointers you can give me with this <3

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jasonDWB
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#2 Re: Equita Letter

Post by jasonDWB » 19 Mar 2017 08:54

jam4brains wrote:
19 Mar 2017 01:33
I am new to this forum and have sat reading extensively this evening as I have tried to fathom out the best way to proceed with the following problem:

Yesterday morning I received an ENFORCEMENT NOTICE from Equita advising me that I owed £766.49 and to contact the bailiff immediately. It's actually £478.70 but the rest is costs.
The fees at this stage are £75. Here is how the fees work: http://www.dealingwithbailiffs.co.uk/ba ... l-fees.htm

The council may have added charges for applying for a liability order. The council pays £3 to apply for a liability order in the magistrates’ court. You can question who the charges were paid and why. A 2015 judgment in the High Court ruled the council must "answer his [the debtor’s] requests for the provision of information how the sum of £125 was arrived at". It is the practice of councils to charge over a £100 for each liability order when applying for over several hundred of them together. If the council is unable or unwilling to explain its disbursements for applying for your individual liability order, you have a right to reclaim them in the small claims court.





It came through the door very early, but I was up and I actually watched it hit the mat, before hearing a motorcycle speed away.

Equita has been doing that for years. They usually leave the document hanging out of the letterbox rather than push it right through.

They don't knock the door because the "enforcement agent" does not have a certificate and as such, cannot lawfully charge an enforcement stage fee for attending. They use the document to aver the enforcement agent with a certificate attended. It is to avail the statutory £235 attendance fee without attending.



I have been pretty ill over the past few months, so I have been claiming ESA,
You are in a class of vulnerable persons and are exempt from paying enforcement fees. Paragraph 77 of the Taking Control of Goods: National Standards 2014.

Regulation 12 of the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 states;
  • Recovery of fees from vulnerable debtors

    12. Where the debtor is a vulnerable person, the fee or fees due for the enforcement stage (or, where regulation 6 applies, the first, or first and second, enforcement stages as appropriate) and any disbursements related to that stage (or stages) are not recoverable unless the enforcement agent has, before proceeding to remove goods which have been taken into control, given the debtor an adequate opportunity to get assistance and advice in relation to the exercise of the enforcement power.

Paragraph 16 of the Taking Control of Goods: National Standards 2014 (Published by the Ministry of Justice) states;
  • Should a debtor be identified as vulnerable, creditors should be prepared to take control of the case, at any time, if necessary.



but I am well enough to work now so am looking for a new job at the moment. But as far as I knew all my bills were up to date and I honestly had absolutely no knowledge what the demand was for!

The law says the council must send you a "Final Notice" or a "Reminder" to your last known address before applying to a Magistrate for a liability order. If you receive bailiffs at your current address, then you make a complaint to your local councillor or the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) for breach of enforcement regulations. You can ask the council to stop enforcement until the council complies with the law.




I called the bailiff and asked him and he gruffly said 'it's council tax'.
He probably doesn't have a certificate. Or he probably won't know what address you are calling from.



So I told him that my council tax was up to date and I didn't know what he was talking about. He then said 'well I don't know, speak to the council'.
This looks like you are a victim of a "hit & run". Its a bailiffs ploy to attract fees for making bogus visits.




So, after several attempts to call Westminster Council......pain in the arse automated service, that sends you round in circles for ages then cuts you off! ....Finally I manage to speak to someone who informs me that it's for the years 2011/12 and 2012/13, and for a previous address. I have lived here for almost 3 years now, so its obviously my old house :roll: .


The council used a bailiff company to trace you. The bailiff company went round a list of potential addresses and put red letters through the door to see if any of them get a reaction. This is contrary to guideline 12 of the Taking Control of Goods: National Standards 2014 which reads:

  • Creditors must not issue a warrant knowing that the debtor is not at the address, as a means of tracing the debtor at no cost.





He also advised me that the court date was the 22nd December 2015, and he couldn't understand why the bailiff was suddenly chasing it now?? :?

The council probably didn't know where you were. It could be Equita is playing bounty hunter.





This made me think that maybe they can't suddenly start pursuing me for something I had no knowledge of, and that is soooo old??
Council tax liabilities are barred from enforcement after six years. Section 9 of the Limitation Act 1980. That is why the liability does not have an end-date. The enforcement power conferred under it ends by the operation section 9.

If you had no knowledge of it, and you do not owe it, then you can ask the council to make a discretionary write off on the grounds the money is not lawfully owed.



So, this evening I have discovered that I am right, and I have paid the £15 for the templates and printed off the section 'Bailiff Enforcing a debt more than 12 months old'. ....Thanks very much for this! :D You guys are such life savers!
Run this checklist. See if there is anythine else you can use. http://beatthebailiffs.org/Council-tax-bailiffs.html




If I have this right, it seems that I can lodge a 'section 14 statutory declaration', which basically says that I had no prior knowledge of the debt at the time the enforcement notice arrived, and i have to have this signed and sent by recorded delivery.
That only applies to magistrates court fines. Its nothing to do with council tax.





But, is this all I can and should do? and please can you confirm that I have understood it all and got my facts straight before I go ahead and do it?
A section 14 statutory declaration only applies to criminal convictions.



- I was planning to go through all the old council tax bills from the old house, as I am sure they are in the loft somewhere, so that I can work out if I actually do owe anything. If it does emerge that I do then obviously I am happy to make arrangements to pay it off. But it would be nice if it could be written off, and save me the hassle of looking through piles of paperwork from years ago! lol

Many thanks in advance for any help or pointers you can give me with this <3

Time to get out the calculator and run an audit of your council tax payments from your bank in the last six years.
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jam4brains
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#3 Re: Equita Letter

Post by jam4brains » 19 Mar 2017 11:59

Many thanks JasonDWB for all the support and helpful comments. There's loads there for me to be getting on with! :)

I have had lots of dealings with the council since I moved here btw, and told them my new address when I moved etc. I would be surprised if they didnt know where I am!? .... But maybe every address has an occupant on their system and people aren't linked to previous addresses?

The only thing that confused me a little bit in your response is the word 'certificate'. You mentioned a couple of times that 'the bailiff probably didn't have one', and another reference to it a bit later on!?
Sorry, but it's all alien terminology to me! :roll: ..... You might as well talk to me in Russian or Mandarin :lol: Unfortunately I was made in Essex!

Thanks again and have a great rest of your weekend. I will post a copy of the email I send the Council in a while :)

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#4 Re: Equita Letter

Post by jasonDWB » 19 Mar 2017 12:06

This explains a bailiff's certificate and what happens if he doesn't have one: http://www.dealingwithbailiffs.co.uk/Ba ... ficate.htm
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#5 Re: Equita Letter

Post by jam4brains » 19 Mar 2017 13:39

Thanks Again JasonDWP. That makes more sense now! 👍🏻 Yes, as you suspected he's not on the list.....or on the list of people waiting for one either! 🤔🤓

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#6 Re: Equita Letter

Post by jam4brains » 19 Mar 2017 14:32

Hi JasonDWP. .....me again! 😳

I have delved into the paperwork file in the loft and I have found a couple of letters I sent them and all the bills etc relating to the council tax. It's a very long and boring story, but basically I lost my husband to a stroke suddenly and my youngest son went off the rails almost immediately afterwards, eldest son decided to go and work abroad too, and I had a bit of a breakdown. The 'family home' was too big for me after these events so I ended up moving to a smaller house around the corner! 👍🏻

I can't figure out how to take photos of the documents to show you, but it was clear that I was making regular payments and corresponding with them. The final bills for all 3 years is zero on my paperwork. (The total paid was made up of 25% single adult discount, my payments, and a small portion of benefits to top up because I was on a low income!). Then the Housing benefit section wrote to me in 2014 to ask me when my youngest son moved out? At the time of receiving this letter I wasn't actually claiming any benefits at all and I was getting ready to move out of that house. Consequently I ignored it! 😳 I didn't think there was any relevance in it at the time and I was busy. All my claims for support were transparent and valid, but because I didn't respond to their request, they automatically clawed back all benefits paid to me for the period 2011/2014. .......and that is why I owe them this money! 😯

Are they allowed to claw back payments made to me in this way, when they were genuine claims? ..... all because I didn't answer their letter! 🤔

Many thanks 😇

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#7 Re: Equita Letter

Post by jasonDWB » 19 Mar 2017 19:01

We are a little outside the realm of bailiffs. I hope someone more informed on council tax can comment.
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Pote Snitkin
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#8 Re: Equita Letter

Post by Pote Snitkin » 19 Mar 2017 20:23

When did your son move out?
It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority. - Benjamin Franklin

On 22/2/17, Peterbard said "taking control of goods and selling them does not actually mean taking control of goods and selling them." Discuss.

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Michelle
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#9 Re: Equita Letter

Post by Michelle » 19 Mar 2017 21:09

jam4brains wrote:
19 Mar 2017 14:32
I can't figure out how to take photos of the documents to show you, but it was clear that I was making regular payments and corresponding with them. The final bills for all 3 years is zero on my paperwork. (The total paid was made up of 25% single adult discount, my payments, and a small portion of benefits to top up because I was on a low income!). Then the Housing benefit section wrote to me in 2014 to ask me when my youngest son moved out? At the time of receiving this letter I wasn't actually claiming any benefits at all and I was getting ready to move out of that house. Consequently I ignored it! 😳 I didn't think there was any relevance in it at the time and I was busy. All my claims for support were transparent and valid, but because I didn't respond to their request, they automatically clawed back all benefits paid to me for the period 2011/2014. .......and that is why I owe them this money! 😯
Do you know whether it's the council tax benefit they awarded you or the 25% single person discount they are after? Even when you were not claiming council tax benefit, the date your son moved out would have been relevant, because of the 25% discount.
jam4brains wrote:
19 Mar 2017 14:32
Are they allowed to claw back payments made to me in this way, when they were genuine claims? ..... all because I didn't answer their letter! 🤔

Many thanks 😇
It may not be the benefit they are clawing back but the adult discount, if they were under the impression there were two adults living there instead of just one, since you didn't provide the info about the date your son moved out.
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