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Category : Benefits and tax > Council tax

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 22 Jul 2015

Summary

Complaint from a man (on behalf of two others) about the actions of a bailiff employed by Rossendales (a company of enforcement agents) instructed by the council to collect council tax arrears.

The complaint

Complaint from a man (on behalf of two others) about the actions of a bailiff employed by Rossendales (a company of enforcement agents) instructed by the council to collect council tax arrears. The bailiff visited the man who owed the money while he was staying with a friend and threatened to remove and sell goods belonging to the friend to pay the debt.

Finding

The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault causing injustice.

Recommendations

The council has agreed to:

  • refund the money one of the men paid on behalf of the man owing the money; it should also apologise to him for the distress its actions caused and pay him an additional £250 in recognition of this;
  • write-off any remaining council tax debt owed by the man's estate;
  • apologise to the man who made the complaint;
  • introduce a policy that it will review video footage shot by bailiffs where this is available and might be relevant to a complaint; and
  • review its current approach to the seizure of third party goods by bailiffs; we recommend a re-wording to reflect a more balanced approach when a bailiff is on third party property in line with comments made in the body of our report.

We also recommend the council should:

  • pay the man who complained £250 in recognition of the distress caused by its bailiff; and
  • provide satisfactory proof that Rossendales has addressed with its bailiffs those parts of the Greater Manchester Consortium Agreement and associated documents (including the Code of Conduct) that were not followed on this occasion; it should provide evidence that Rossendales has taken action to ensure all its bailiffs know those parts of the Code covering courtesy; identification; proper adherence to Data Protection Act principles and the correct approach to seizure of their party goods.

 

 

 

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