From 6th April 2014 there are new procedures and fee scales relating to the enforcement of debts such as the non-payment of Council Tax, Business Rates, Child Support awards, Magistrates’ Court fines, Road Traffic penalties (PCNs) and Commercial Rent. Such debts are enforced by enforcement agents, formerly often referred to as bailiffs.
When such debts are passed by the creditor, in the majority of cases the local authority, an account is set up by the enforcement company tasked with enforcing the debt. A fee of £75.00 will then added to the account. You will be sent a Notice of Enforcement which gives details of the outstanding debt. This stage is referred to as the pre-enforcement or compliance stage. You will not get an enforcement visit from an enforcement agent during this stage and therefore, if you wish to avoid such a visit it is most important that you contact the enforcement company immediately and arrange for payment or payments to be made and adhere to the payment agreement made.
If you fail to make contact with the enforcement company, or fail to adhere to the payment arrangement that you have made with them, the matter will then move to the enforcement stage. This will entail a visit, or a series of visits, from an enforcement agent, a further fee of £235 (plus 7.5% of the outstanding debt that exceeds £1500) will be added to your account and you risk having your possessions seized by the enforcement agent and subsequently removed and sold, if full payment is not made.
If your goods are seized and removed by the enforcement agent there will be an additional sale stage fee of £110 (again plus 7.5% of the outstanding debt that exceeds £1500).
If you have been advised that the debt has been passed to an enforcement company do not then make direct payments to the creditor. This will only complicate the process and may result in an enforcement visit when payment to the enforcement company could have avoided that. Direct payments to the creditor will not reduce the amount that needs to be paid nor will it avoid the addition of the enforcement fees detailed above.