What happens if you do not pay your Council Tax instalments in full and on time.

If you are experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus, you can apply for Council Tax Support online.

It is important that you pay your council tax, but if you are struggling to do so, you can contact the support team to discuss payment options.

Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. Received a Council Tax reminder?

If you do not pay your Council Tax instalments in full and on time, you will be sent a reminder.

If your account has reached this stage and you are having difficulty paying it is important that you email us at counciltax@lambeth.gov.uk or call us on 0345 302 2312, as soon as possible.

It may be that you should receive a discount or should apply for Council Tax support - if you contact us you will be advised accordingly. It may also be possible for you to make a different payment arrangement.

Received a Council Tax reminder?

The terms of a reminder are that you must bring your account up to date within seven days of receiving it. If in a further seven days your account is still in arrears, you will lose your right to pay by instalments.

This means that the whole balance of your account becomes due immediately. Any further delay in payment will result in a court summons being issued. As soon as the summons is issued, court costs of £69 are added to your account.

If you are experiencing difficulties paying your Council Tax bill, Citizen’s Advice Merton and Lambeth can assist you in dealing with issues relating to your Council Tax at one of their dedicated debt clinics.

At this clinic you can:

  • speak with an independent Legal Debt Advisor from Citizens Advice Merton and Lambeth (CAML)
  • clear up any concerns you have with regards to your account
  • agree a Council Tax payment plan at a rate you can afford
  • agree for us to discuss this with Lambeth council tax officers on your behalf.

For more information, visit Citizens Advice Merton or telephone 0800 2540 298.

2. Possible court action

If you pay in full at this point, (including any costs), nothing further will happen. The court will be informed that you have paid and the case is automatically stopped. If any debt remains on your account on the hearing day, the case will go ahead.

In the vast majority of cases the district judge will issue a Liability Order. This confirms that you have to pay and grants us permission to take formal recovery action. We will also ask for a further amount of court costs, usually £35, to be added to your account.

3. Collecting outstanding Council Tax

We are legally obliged to collect all outstanding Council Tax. We have a rigorous approach to collection and will use all the methods of recovery that are available to us. We employ a team especially to do this.

We can use any of the following methods of recovery:

  • attachment of benefit - job seekers allowance (JSA) or income support.
  • attachment of earnings - an order will be served on your employer to deduct sums from your salary or wages and pay it directly to the council.
  • enforcement agents - who will write and call to enforce payment on you. If necessary the enforcement agents will seize your goods for sale at auction, sufficient to cover your debt. They will also add their own charges to your account.

If these prove unsuccessful, we can apply for you to be declared bankrupt or committed to prison, or we can obtain a charging order against your property.

4. Settling your arrears

If at any time you wish to settle your arrears you may do so.

You should email us at counciltax@lambeth.gov.uk or call us on 0345 302 2312 to advise us what you are doing so that any action we might be taking can be reconsidered.