Council Tax summons FAQs

I have received a Council Tax summons, what should I do now?

You should pay the amount on the summons in full before the date of the court hearing, including the summons court costs of £95. Make sure you allow enough time for the payment to reach us before the hearing date.

Whilst you have lost the right to pay your Council Tax in instalments, we may still be able to set a payment arrangement with you. Please contact us before the court date to discuss. 

Do I have to go to the court hearing?

You have a right to go to the court, however the Magistrate will only hear from you if you have a valid defence against the granting of a liability order. Please note that being unable to pay is not a valid defence. You do not need to attend the hearing if you do not dispute that you owe the amount shown on the summons and the case will go ahead even if you do not attend the hearing. A list of the main valid defences against the granting of a liability order is below:

  • The Council Tax has not been properly set
  • The Council Tax has not been billed correctly 
  • The amount billed has been paid
  • There is no entry in the Valuation List
  • The debt is being recovered more than six years after it became due
  • Bankruptcy proceedings have commenced
  • An administration order has been made through the County Court Act 1984.

If you plan to attend the hearing, please contact us in advance by emailing or phoning 023 8068 8470.

I cannot afford to pay the Council Tax

If you are on a low income you may be able to get a reduction on your bill. This is known as Council Tax Support (CTS) and is not normally backdated so if you think you may qualify, you must apply now. Even if you make an application for CTS, we will still request the Magistrates to grant a liability order at the court hearing, however we may agree to hold any further action pending the outcome of the application for CTS.

I have been making payments towards the Council Tax

Council Tax is payable in instalments which are shown on your bill. If you do not pay your instalments by the due date a reminder is issued. If you do not bring the instalments up to date within seven days of the due date, the whole amount outstanding becomes due. If you bring the instalments up to date but fall behind again, a further reminder will be issued. If the instalments fall behind for a third time, the full amount outstanding becomes due. If a final notice is issued to you and the full balance of your Council Tax is not paid within seven days we will start legal action in the Magistrates' Court unless you contact us to discuss a payment arrangement.

What are the summons costs for?

Costs of £95 are charged when the summons is issued. This covers both the court and our costs in recovering the debt. This amount must be paid in addition to the Council Tax due.

I think my house has been incorrectly banded for Council Tax

The banding of property for Council Tax is undertaken by the Valuation Office Agency, a part of HMRC.

You must not stop making payments whilst you are waiting for any appeal to be settled. 

What is a liability order?

A liability order is a statement from the Magistrates' Court that you owe an amount of Council Tax and costs. It gives us additional powers to enforce the debt such as making deductions from your wages or other benefits, or instruct Civil Enforcement Agents to collect the debt on our behalf which may incur further costs.

If you have difficulty with making payments for your Council Tax and want to talk to a member of staff about making a payment arrangement, or you want to ask any other questions about your Council Tax then please contact us: