Arrears and Debt Recovery
If you have problems paying your Business Rates at any stage of the process shown below we will consider making an arrangement with you. We are not legally obliged to make payment arrangements, and only consider them as part of our effort to ensure that all Business Rate payers are treated fairly and objectively. You can complete the online form 'Payment Arrangement Request'.
A bill is sent for the annual charge (1 April – 31 March) which is payable over ten monthly instalments. You may also request to pay over 12 monthly instalments from April - March inclusive, instead of the 10 monthly payments. To request this option and complete the form please click the 'Do it online' tab above.
We will send a reminder notice for any unpaid instalment shortly after it is due. The overdue amount must be paid within seven days. If the overdue amount is not paid, you will lose the right to pay by instalments after a further seven days. No further reminders will be sent and we will send you a Court summons that includes costs that you will need to pay in addition to the charges that are due.
If you fall behind again you will lose the right to pay by instalments and the outstanding year’s charge will become due within seven days. If the overdue amount is not paid we will send you a Court summons that includes costs that you will need to pay in addition to the outstanding charge.
If you are sent a summons you will also have to pay summons costs. This is the amount the Court has agreed we can charge you for the time and cost it takes to produce and issue the summons. The costs amount is reviewed annually.
We will give you at least fourteen days notice of the Court hearing date. We will take no further action if the outstanding charge and costs are paid before the hearing. You do not have to go to the Court if you know the Business Rate charge is correct, but you have not paid it. You can go to Court if you do not agree the charge is payable for any of the following reasons:
- the Business Rate charge has not been set correctly
- the property the charge is for is not in the rating list (You do have to pay if you have an appeal outstanding against the rateable value for your property that is shown in the List)
- you are not liable for the charge.
- the Business Rate bill was not served correctly or did not show the correct instalments you need to pay
- any reminder/ further notices or the summons has not been served correctly
- the charge has been paid
- over six years have passed since the Business Rate charge became due
- insolvency proceedings have been commenced
If the Magistrates agree that the unpaid charge is correct and payable they will grant a liability order against you for non-payment. The granting of a liability order incurs additional costs.
If an amount remains unpaid after the liability order is granted; we can ask an Enforcement Agent (bailiff) to collect the charge for us without any further notice. From this stage you will need to discuss any payment issues directly with the enforcement agents instead of the council, but the bailiff will work within a code of conduct the council has agreed with them. You will have to pay more costs if bailiffs are used to collect outstanding Business Rates.
The bailiffs will try to make an arrangement with you to pay the charge outstanding, but if this cannot be done, or you do not pay as agreed the bailiffs can remove goods from your home to sell at auction to raise the funds to pay the charge.
From 6 April 2014 new legislation 'Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014. Find out more about the legislation at: www.legislation.gov.uk
The Act provides a new statutory code for taking control of goods in order to sell them to enforce the payment of debts (replacing the process formerly known as “distress”).
Fees are recoverable by reference to stages of the enforcement procedure. Fees range from £75 to a higher fixed fee plus, 7.5% of the sum to be recovered exceeding £1500. It is important to make contact with the Council prior to this to make a payment arrangement to avoid these costs.
If the business is in the name of individuals rather than a company, and you owe more than £750.00, we can start bankruptcy proceedings against you under the Insolvency Act. Your home could be sold if we have to take this action. If you have been declared bankrupt already you will need to send us documentary evidence to confirm the date of the bankruptcy order. The Official Receiver will appoint a Trustee who will send us a proof of debt form so we can make a claim for the amount you owe. Once any assets you possess have been evaluated, the Official Receiver will arrange to send payment to us as one of your creditors.
The Official Receiver will include any debts incurred before your bankruptcy, however if you still occupy the property you need to continue to pay any business rates that are due. If the property is empty and unoccupied and has become the responsibility of the Trustee, no business rates will be payable as the property is classed as exempt.
If your company has gone into liquidation already, you will need to send us documentary evidence of when it happened. If there is any business rates outstanding up to the date of liquidation, we will make a claim as an unsecured creditor to the Insolvency Practitioner appointed to deal with your company. Dependent on the other creditors and the assets of the company, we may receive a payment (dividend) to help reduce what you owe.
Debts incurred before the company was liquidated will be included in our claim to the Insolvency Practitioner. If the property is empty and unoccupied and has become the responsibility of the insolvency Practitioner, no business rates will be payable as the property is classed as exempt.
If your business is a company we can apply to the Court with other creditors for you to be placed in administration.
If your business has gone into administration already, you will need to send us documentary evidence of when it happened. If there are any business rates outstanding up to the date of administration, we will make a claim to the Administrator. Depending on the circumstances, we will not take any further recovery action while the Administration Order is in place. We will ask the Administrator to pay any business rates due from the date of the Administration Order.
The administrator will look at your company’s finances and decide if, by letting the company continue to trade, its financial situation may improve, or it may be decided to sell the business as a going concern. Alternatively the administrator may recommend the only courses of action are liquidation, or a Company Voluntary Arrangement.
Individual or Company Voluntary Arrangement
If as an individual or as a company you go to an Insolvency Practitioner to make a voluntary arrangement, you will need to send us documentary evidence of when it happened. If there are any business rates outstanding up to the date of the arrangement, we will notify these to the Insolvency Practitioner.
The Insolvency Practitioner will write to your creditors to arrange a meeting where your debts will be confirmed, and the creditors will decide whether to accept a payment arrangement. If the arrangement is accepted we will receive payment from the Insolvency Practitioner of an agreed amount. If the arrangement is not accepted then recovery action will continue.
If you still occupy the property you need to continue to pay any business rates that are due from the date of the voluntary arrangement. If the property is empty and unoccupied and you still have the lease or freehold, empty rates will continue to be payable after a three month exempt period (or six if an industrial property).
If your company is placed in administrative receivership you will need to send us documentary evidence of when it happened. If there are any business rates outstanding up to the date of receivership, we will notify these to the receiver appointed to deal with your company. Dependent on the other creditors and the assets of the company, we may receive a payment (dividend) to help reduce what you owe. If the company is still trading we will ask the receiver to pay any business rates due from the date of the Receivership.
If you own the property that you have not paid business rates for, we can make an agreement with you to apply to the County Court for a charge to be put against the property for up to three years. This acts as a security against the debt that you owe, so that if the property is to be sold during this period, your business rate debt will have to be paid to us before the sale can take place. This course of action may be an option rather than taking bankruptcy or committal proceedings against a sole trader.
If you are a sole trader rather than a company, we will ask the Magistrates’ Court to summons you to appear at the Court to explain why you have still not paid the charge. If we have to do this you will be charged further costs.