What happens if you don't pay

This is the process we follow if you don't pay your council tax, including reminders, the final notice and court proceedings.

Reminders

If you don’t pay your council tax on time we’ll send you a reminder notice. If you don’t pay within 7 days and don’t contact us, you’ll lose the right to pay by instalments.

If you make the payment by the date requested, but miss another payment in the same year you’ll be sent another reminder notice.

You’ll get a maximum of 2 reminder notices every year.

If you miss a third payment and don’t contact us you will get a final notice and you’ll have to pay the whole year’s council tax.

Summons and court hearing

If you don’t pay after a reminder or final notice, or don't tell us why you're not liable to pay, a summons will be sent to you. You’ll be summoned to court to explain why the council tax hasn’t been paid. Costs of £103 will be added to the unpaid council tax bill.

You can avoid court, if you:

  • pay the full amount shown on the summons, including court costs, before the date of the hearing
  • contact us before the court hearing to arrange a payment plan covering what you owe

At the hearing we’ll ask the magistrate to issue a liability order. A liability order gives the council more powers to help collect the money you owe. You don’t have to go to the hearing, but if you do the magistrate will ask you if you have a valid defence which will stop the order being issued.

What we might do after a court hearing

 If you still don’t pay, we might:

  • ask your employer to pay your unpaid council tax directly from your wages or we might take the money from benefits you get
  • get an enforcement agent (bailiff) to collect what you owe, which could mean your possessions are removed and sold at auction, the cost of which will be added to your total amount owed to the council
  • apply a charging order against a property you own (if you owe more than £1000) and the amount you owe will be paid when the property is sold
  • take action to make an individual bankrupt if more than £750 is owed
  • apply to the court to send you to prison for up to 3 months, though we'll only take this step if all other efforts have failed or aren't applicable