Council tax arrears and debt recovery

Find out what action will be taken if you miss a council tax payment.

What happens if you miss a council tax payment

If you miss a council tax payment, we will send you a reminder notice giving you seven days to pay before a court summons is issued.

If you fall behind on your council tax payments three times in one financial year, you will lose the right to pay by instalments and we will send you a final notice asking for full payment of the council tax due for the rest of the year.

If you are struggling to pay your council tax, you must contact the council tax team straight away.

Further action that may be taken

Court summons

If you fail to pay your council tax after you have been reminded by a reminder or final notice, we will make a complaint to the magistrates court and a summons will be issued.

A summons is a court document telling you the date, time and location that the magistrates will decide if they will demand your payment by issuing a liability order against you.

You don’t need to go to the court hearing unless you have a legal defence against the issue of a liability order.

If you've received a court summons you should pay your council tax in full, including any costs shown on the summons. If you pay in full your case will not be heard and we will not apply for a liability order.

If you can't pay in full, you may be able to pay in instalments.

Liability orders

A liability order is a demand for you to pay the full amount you owe us, plus any costs.

If the magistrates issue a liability order, we are allowed to:

  • ask your employer to regularly take money from your salary
  • take money from your Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance
  • ask enforcement officers to collect the debt
  • put a charging order on your home
  • apply to make you bankrupt
  • apply to the court to send you to prison

Before we consider taking any of these options we will ask you about your personal and financial situation.

Find out more about council powers to recover debt