I am currently being persued by Rundles for Council Tax arrears. I suffered a nervous breakdown in October 2016 due to ongoing mental health issues.
As me and my partner have a 5-year old son and my behaviour at the time was unpredictable at best we both decided it was appropriate for me to leave our family home and seek medication and treatment, whilst being supported by close friends and family. That's basically a nice way of saying I got booted out until I sought proper help and medication.
I have suffered mental health issues since I was a teen. I am now 36. In recent years my condition had improved to the point I had completely come off medication. Having battled this most of my life I knew I could get through it with medication and a bit of breathing space.
Around about the time this was going on Rundles made contact relating to a Liability Order that had been imposed in me. I do remember receiving correspondence relating to this earlier in the year but did not address it at the time, wrongly assuming a simple Deduction of Earnings Order would be implemented and the debt would be paid through my wages.
27th October I made payment to Rundle and set a payment plan for £167 a month, paying £200 straight away. At this point I was mid breakdown, aware I would be leaving and not wanting baillifs knocking while I wasnt there. I had also recently paid my salary and hoped to return to work before company sick pay ran out in Jan 2017.
My breakdown was triggered by work related stress late October and I have been signed off, receiving only SSP since January 2017. I was paid some SSP and company sick pay until then.
Whilst I was away from the property (left 21/10/17 returning 28/12/17) I was not really thinking about keeping up with admin. My partner is a full time student so is not liable for Council Tax and did not inform the council I had left temporarily.
Rundles enforcement agents attended the property 14th December. My partner told them I had left the property. They said they needed to check so she let them in. They were wearing recording equipment and searched the house taking photographs of my old tools from when i worked in construction. I have worked in retail since 2014. My old suits that I had no need of as I was I was not working or attending any parties. My son's ps4, some games I play myself on his PS4, and my old broken watch. They have claimed this is "evidence" that I was still residing at the property. They also stated there were Christmas Cards addressed to both me and my partner. We didnt really tell anyone we had split up at the time and she hoped I could fix myself before making a public announcement, we kept in close contact and I was allowed time with my son while recovering.
During the visit one of the bailiffs approached my son and attempted to take an NHS supplied Ipad out of his hands while he was looking at it. This was while he was eating his breakfast getting ready for school at around 8am. He has since had recurring nightmares about "the men coming to take his stuff" and mentions then every time his mum gets stressed. The Ipad belongs to my partner and was issued to assist her Speech and Language Therapy studies. She has paperwork to prove this.
They told her she needed to sign a piece of paper "just to say we've been". So she did. She is not party to the debt and I have never given her any authorisation to sign any legal documents on my behalf. We dont even have a joint bank account!
As she was in the middle of getting our son ready for school she didnt read what she was signing. It was a Controlled goods agreement! With "arrangement terms" of £200 a month.
Once she had signed this they told her that if they didnt receive payment immediately they would return the next day with a van. They stated I had arrears of £262. I had left a credit card at the property "for emergencies" so she used this to make a payment to get rid of them. I didnt authorise this either but am not willing to press charges against my partner.
During the time this was ongoing she attempted to call me. My signal was poor and I was dizy due to strong medication so could not make out what was going on. I only discovered this a few hours later once my head was clear and I could get a signal.
After enjoying a good Christmas day with my family my partner agreed to let me return. I did so on 28th December 2016.
I took this up with CAB and they have attempted to address the above to no avail. They "believe" the agreement is invalid but "can't be sure whether the baillifs may force entry and remove goods". Interestingly the camera footage is not available due to "technical difficulties" !!!
Apparently CAB have been in contact with the council and the account is on hold until 4th May 2017.
I have recently applied for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction explaining I was away from the property for a period and have been in receipt if SSP since Jan 2017. I believe that I am not liable for the total original debt as this should be adjusted to reflect my income since Jan 2017. I understand I am liable for the appropriate amount and have recently paid a full Council Tax payment for April 2017 to avoid any more issues with this year's bill while it is being recalculated.
I attended CAB on Thursday to be told there is nothing more they can do about the above. Can anyone advise where I stand going forward please?
Is the agreement invalid and, if so, what does that actually mean with regards to further enforcement? Can they enforce a document that has been signed without my authorisation? They have nothing with my signature on and I am the only party to this debt.
Have they breached any regulations with their behaviour?
And finally, how should I address this going forward? Rundles seem intent to press on regardless. I am still off work with Anxiety and Depression and this hanging over my head is quite unsettling.
Any advice or guidance will be extremely greatfully received.
Quash the Liability Order. Suspend Enforcement. Disputing Liabilities. Claim Damages for Misuse of Enforcement Power.
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