Letter: Enforcing payment of the council tax

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sir: You report (2 April) that while councils have the power to use the charging order procedure to force the sale of a council tax debtor's home, many enforcement officers are unaware of the provision. More worrying is the apparent misunderstanding of the procedure by those who are aware of it.

There are two stages: the first is the obtaining of a charging order, which is a fairly simple process at the local county court. Once made, the charging order works like a mortgage - it sits there until the property is sold, when the council will be entitled to be paid out of the proceeds of sale, after any prior mortgagees (eg: a building society). The second stage is the active one of applying to sell the property. It is only here that the question of making someone homeless arises, and therefore it is only this stage that ought to be viewed as a last resort. The making of a charging order is a way of taking a security for the debt, rather than enforcing payment.

Enforcement officers should consider obtaining a charging order at an early stage of enforcement proceedings, while leaving the question of a sale of the property, quite rightly, to be the last option.

Yours faithfully,


Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire