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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).

Pay your bill


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.

Important note

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.

Attending court

You have the right to appear at the virtual court hearing, but you should only appear virtually if you have a valid defence against a liability order being granted. Details of the valid defences are included in the information enclosed with the summons. 

Venue for court hearings

Council Tax and Business Rates court hearings are held virtually (online).

If you wish to appear virtually, please contact our office by the Monday before the hearing either by calling our Contact Centre on 020 8891 1411 or by emailing or

Committal (Means Enquiry) Hearings

From 1 April 2014 hearings will be held at

The Court House
Alexandra Road
SW19 7JP

Telephone: 020 8946 8622

Get directions The Court House

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 (which includes summons and court costs previously advised).

Magistrates’ court action will not affect your credit rating. 

Further recovery

When a liability order has been issued, we have the power to:

  • Deduct what you owe directly from your earnings or benefits
  • Ask Enforcement Agents to make a payment arrangement with you, or if this fails, to take some of your valuables and sell them to pay what you owe. Enforcement Agents are allowed to charge you fees on top of what you owe the Council. Our Enforcement Agents can be contacted on the following telephone numbers: Bristow & Sutor 0330 390 2010, Chandlers 0208 290 5055 and Marston 0333 320 1822
  • Make you bankrupt

Independent advice

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.

Got a question?

Web chat available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Updated: 21 July 2023

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