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1 Dealing with Debt

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1. Introduction

2. Rent or mortgage payment problems

3. Council Tax bill problems

If you haven't paid your Council Tax, the council will apply for a 'liability order' in the magistrates' court to get the money you owe. If the court grants the liability order, it will mean the council can:

  • use bailiffs to get the money from you (by taking things you own);
  • take money from your wages or certain benefits.
  • apply to make you bankrupt; or
  • apply for a charging order over your home, if you are a homeowner (see 'Charging order').

At this stage, it is worth checking whether you could ask for lower Council Tax payments, or whether you should have to pay Council Tax at all (Council Tax exemption). You may be able to reduce what you owe. For example:

  • If you are on a low income, you could claim backdated Council Tax Benefit (for a maximum of 52 weeks), as long as you have a good reason for not having claimed it before.
  • If you are the only adult in the house (apart from students, full-time carers, severely mentally disabled people and anyone whose main home is somewhere else) you could claim a Council Tax discount (25 per cent);
  • if you think you are paying more Council Tax than people with a similar house or flat in the same council area, you could ask to have your house or flat revalued. If it is revalued into a lower Council Tax band, you will pay less Council Tax.
  • If the people living in your house or flat are students or severely mentally disabled people, you do not have to pay Council Tax.

There are other circumstances where you may not have to pay or you could get payments reduced. Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for more about this (see 'Further help' for details).

4. Hire Purchase (HP) problems

5. Gas, electricity and phone bills

6. Water bills

7. Loan and credit problems

8. What creditors can do to get their money

9. Going to court

10. Dealing with many debts

11. Dealing with bailiffs

12. Other legal protection if you are in debt

13. When you can be sent to prison for your debts

14. Terms used when dealing with debt

15. Further help

16. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Birmingham Settlement.

The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since they were printed so the information in them may be incorrect or out of date.

Leaflet Version: December 2007