If you have unpaid council tax, a visit from a Scott and Co Sheriff Officer might be one of the things you fear the most. However, by understanding more about what Sheriff Officers can and can’t do, you will find that dealing with them becomes a lot easier. Sheriff Officers are appointed by councils to recover unpaid council tax. They are given authority to collect the debt on behalf of the council by the Sheriff Court. This means that Sheriff Officers have a lot more power than a debt collector from a debt collection agency. However, what they can and can’t do is strictly regulated by law. In this article we will look at the five biggest myths about Sheriff Officers to help reduce the fear that surrounds them.
Sheriff Officers can enter your home at any time of the day or night to collect unpaid council tax
If a Sheriff Officer is visiting your home to collect your possessions to sell them to recover the unpaid debt (this is known as exceptional attachment), they cannot enter your home at any time. In fact, they must come between the hours of 8.00am and 8.00pm. They cannot come outside these hours or on a Sunday or public holiday (such as Christmas Day or Boxing Day). What’s more, a Sheriff Officer should write to let you know when they are coming, so you will know when to expect them
Sheriff Officers can charge unlimited fees to collect unpaid council tax
No, Sheriff Officers cannot charge unlimited fees. The amounts they can charge are strictly regulated by law. When it comes to taking your possessions to sell them to recover the unpaid council tax (exceptional attachment), a Sheriff Officer can only charge a fixed fee on each stage of the three stages of the collection process (service notice of entry, arranging attachment and executing attachment). They can only charge each fee once. They will also charge a fixed fee on any money to be recovered up to £2,737 and a percentage fee on amounts over that. Sheriff Officers have the right to force entry to your home by forcing a lock or breaking a window. If they do this, the council has to pay for its replacement, although these costs may be passed back to you.
There is a prison sentence for people who can’t pay their council tax
If you cannot pay your council tax because you cannot afford to, you will not go to prison. However, if you can afford to pay your council tax but you aren’t, then you could face a prison sentence. If you do not pay your council tax, you will be summoned to court. At court, you will undergo a means assessment. This checks to see whether or not you can afford to pay your council tax. If the court finds that you cannot afford to pay your council tax, you will not go to prison. If the court finds that you can afford to pay your council tax but are choosing not to, then you could face a prison sentence.
If you don’t pay your council tax your credit rating will be affected
There is no need to worry about this. Councils do not share council tax details with credit reference agencies. This means that if you have unpaid council tax or council tax fines, your credit rating will not be affected.
It is difficult to get an appointment with a debt counsellor
You may think that it will be too difficult or take too long to get an appointment with a debt counsellor, but this is not the case. Even if you are expecting a visit from the Sheriff Officer in the next few days – or even today – help is available. When you call Council Tax Advisors we will be able to give you all the advice you need to handle the Sheriff Officers straightaway. We may even be able to speak to them on your behalf. We will also give you the opportunity to speak to a debt counsellor to start to solve your council tax debt problems. All our advice and services are free of charge. If you are struggling with debt, the best advice is to seek independent help from a debt counsellor. They will be able to offer you advice and information on the options that are open to you. So if you need help with council tax debt or are expecting a visit from a Sheriff Officer, contact Council Tax Advisors today.
‘This post is in association with Council Tax Advisors’