Council Tax reminders and summonses
It is important to pay your Council Tax bill on time.
If you fail to pay, we will send you reminders and finally a court summons to obtain the money we are owed.
If you are experiencing problems with paying your bill then you must let us know.
We have produced a guide to billing, collection and recovery for Council Tax and Business Rates (pdf, 177 KB).
If a payment is not received within 7 days we can send you a reminder letter asking you to bring the account up to date, including paying the next instalment.
If the amount on the reminder letter is not paid within 7 days, the whole outstanding amount for the year becomes payable.
You then have a further 7 days to pay off the whole outstanding annual amount before a summons may be issued.
If you receive two reminder letters in a year you will be issued with a final reminder for the full outstanding annual amount.
If the whole amount owed for the year is not received after the second period of 7 days following the reminder letter, a magistrates’ court summons may be issued. The cost of the summons (currently £71.50) is added to the outstanding Council Tax debt.
The summons will give you a date for a hearing. If you want to talk to us about your account, please contact us before the hearing date.
You can still pay your bill after receiving a summons. If you are paying in full, you should pay the whole amount plus any outstanding court costs. If you are paying a smaller amount, we can take the payment but should also discuss an arrangement.
On the hearing date we will ask the court to issue a liability order unless the whole of the amount due (including any outstanding court costs) has been paid. A liability order is a legal document confirming that further recovery action can be taken.
If you cannot afford to pay
If you agree that you owe the amount shown on your summons, but can’t afford to pay it back, contact us to arrange a repayment plan.
If you disagree with the summons
You are not likely to succeed in challenging the summons unless:
- The sum has not been requested from you in accordance with the law. For example, we did not send you a bill and a reminder before the summons.
- You do not owe any Council Tax for the period stated. For example, you have paid in full or are not liable for it.
If you disagree that you owe the amount shown on the summons for any reason, contact us before the hearing to discuss the matter.
You have the right to attend your court hearing, but you only need to go if you do not agree that you owe the amount shown on the summons.
Venue for court hearings
Council Tax and Business Rates court hearings are held at:
Liability Order Hearings
Lavender Hill Magistrates' Court
176a Lavender Hill
Telephone: 020 7805 1447
There is no public parking at Lavender Hill Magistrates' Court. The most direct route is by train to Clapham Junction.
Committal (Means Enquiry) Hearings
From 1 April 2014 hearings will be held at
The Court House
Telephone: 020 8946 8622
When you arrive at court, report to the usher who will show you into court. Council officers will also be available to answer your queries.
What happens at court
The magistrates can only consider whether or not you owe the balance shown on the summons. If the court is satisfied you do, the magistrates will grant a liability order.
The cost of the liability order (currently £26.50) will be added to the outstanding Council Tax debt. The magistrates will also order you to pay court costs.
Magistrates’ court action will not affect your credit rating.
When a liability order has been issued, we have the power to:
- take what you owe directly from your earnings, Income Support or Job Seeker's Allowance (Income Based).
- ask bailiffs to make a payment arrangement with you, or if this fails, to take some of your valuables and sell them to pay off what you owe. The bailiffs are allowed to charge you extra fees on top of what you owe the Council.
- make you bankrupt.
Citizens Advice Richmond offers debt counselling and free legal advice.
Effect on credit rating
Magistrates’ court action will not automatically affect your credit rating.
The law does not allow the court or the Council to discuss this action with anybody else.
A credit company could send a representative to the court on the day of the hearing to copy the listing that is on public display. This is very unlikely as there could be up to 3,000 names on the court hearing list.
Up to: Council Tax
Updated: 13 October 2022