Do you owe East Hampshire Council debt that you can’t afford? Whether it’s council tax arrears, housing benefit overpayments, or a parking fine, dealing with debt you can’t afford can feel like you’re drowning.
If you’ve received a letter from East Hampshire Council about debt, this guide will give you all you need to know.
From what action East Hampshire Council will take to your legal rights and debt management options, this guide will help you take control of the situation and feel confident to make the right choice for your circumstances.
What is East Hampshire Council Debt?
If East Hampshire is sending you letters about unpaid debts, it’s likely one of the following:
- Unpaid parking tickets
- Housing benefit overpayments
- Council tax arrears
- Former tenant arrears
If you miss payments or receive overpayments, they’ll send letters stating how much you owe, how they’ve come to the decision that you owe them money, dates of missed payments, and how to pay them.
Can I Ignore Letters from East Hampshire District Council?
When it comes to council debt, it’s best to be proactive and take control of the situation. They won’t go away simply because you ignore letters.
In fact, the longer you ignore their attempts to contact you, the more likely it is they will take you to court to recover the debt owed.
If you do end up going to court, you might be liable for court fees and bailiff fees, which can run into the hundreds.
What Action will East Hampshire Council Take if I Don’t Pay?
Here are the steps East Hampshire District Council will take to recover the money owed:
1. Initial advisory letter
The initial letter will tell you how much you owe, why you owe it, and how to make any payments.
If you’ve received this letter and you don’t recognise the money they claim you owe, we’ll cover the steps to take later in the guide.
2. Follow up letters
You’ll then receive follow-up letters and phone calls in attempts to contact you.
3. Final notice
If they don’t hear from you, you’ll receive a final notice. This gives you 7 days to make a payment before legal action is taken.
4. Debt Recovery Agent
East Hampshire may choose to employ a debt collector to recover the debt on their behalf. If this is the case, you’ll receive more letters and phone calls from the debt collection agency.
They may also send agents to your home to make house visits. However, these agents are not bailiffs and cannot enter your home to seize belongings.
5. Apply for County Court Judgement
If this doesn’t work, they can take your case to court and file for a County Court Order. This will legally compel you to pay the debt (usually through monthly installments).
Keep in mind that you will be the one footing the bill for bailiff and court fees, which can end up costing hundreds on top of debt payments.
Will East Hampshire Council Send Bailiffs to My House?
If the County Court Order is granted, East Hampshire District Council can ask for a warrant for bailiffs to be sent to your home to recover assets to pay for the debt.
These bailiffs will give you a chance to pay the money owed, and if you don’t have it or refuse, they will take property.
Worried about bailiffs? Here are the steps to take to deal with bailiffs.
Will I Go to Prison if I Don’t Pay My Council Tax?
You may have read stories online about councils threatening prison terms for unpaid council tax. However, a prison sentence is only used when a person actively avoids paying council tax for a significant period of time and cannot or will not make repayments.
Don’t worry, East Hampshire Council should work with you to help you overcome your struggles with debt. You won’t be threatened with a prison sentence unless you make active moves to dodge your council tax.
How to Contact East Hampshire Council
Post: Penns Pl, Petersfield GU31 4EX
Phone: 01730 266551
How Should I Respond to East Hampshire Council?
You should respond to the council as soon as possible to open a dialogue and show that you’re willing to be contacted.
Here are the steps you should take:
1. Ask for proof of the debt
Whether or not you recognise the debt, you should ask for more proof of the debt in question. Sometimes council tax arrears or similar debts are miscalculated, especially if you’ve moved home.
Write to East Hampshire Council, tell them you dispute the amount owed and need more proof of the debt in question.
They should be able to provide more details of the outstanding balance such as missed payment dates, overpayment calculations, proof of parking fines, etc.
2. Look into your options
Don’t feel as though you are trapped by this debt, even if they send proof. If paying the debt means putting yourself in further financial difficulties, there are other options available that you should explore.
Let your council know that you can’t afford to pay them and you are looking into your debt management options. They should give you a grace period to do this before escalating your case further.
Can I Write Off My Debt?
If you have more than £6000 in total debt, you might qualify to have your debt written off.
An Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) is a scheme which consolidates all of your debts and bundles them into one monthly payment.
This monthly payment lasts for 5 years, after which time the remaining debt is written off completely.
Most people write off around 60% of their debt in this scheme, but it can be as much as 90% depending on your level of debt.
A Debt Relief Order
Do you have multiple debts from different lenders and you’re struggling to keep your head above water? A debt relief order might be a good option to look into.
Once granted, you’ll have around 12 months where all debt payments are stopped. This also means you won’t receive letters or phone calls from debt collectors (including the council).
It’s not a long-term debt management solution, but can be the perfect thing to help you get back on your feet.
A Debt Management Plan
A debt management plan will involve paying your East Hampshire Council debt in weekly or monthly installments.
If you do decide to set up a debt management plan, make sure there are no additional fees or high monthly interest rates which will make it harder to pay back the full amount.
If you go down this route, make sure you do a financial snapshot first to be certain that you can afford the monthly repayments.
Bankruptcy should only be considered if you have substantial debt and have exhausted all other options. It will negatively impact your credit score and is very much a ‘pull cord in case of emergency’ option.
Council Debt Write-Off
In some circumstances, you can ask the council to write off your debt completely. Some examples of when this is granted include:
- If you are permanently unable to work due to illness or accident
- If you’ve been declared insolvent
- If you have zero income
- If the debt is over 6 years old
Don’t Feel Trapped by East Hampshire Council Debt
No matter what your circumstances are, there is a debt management option that will work for you. The bottom line is you should never pay back council debt if it means putting yourself in more debt.
Council debt in particular can feel stressful because it’s a government institution. But this doesn’t mean you don’t have debt management options available to you.
Make sure you take enough time to explore all the options in this guide to find the best way to deal with Easthampshire Council debt.