St Albans council “incompetence” behind wrongful enforcement letters, claims grandfather

St Albans District Council.

St Albans District Council. - Credit: Archant

Two grandparents have received a letter threatening repossession by St Albans council despite not owing them a penny.

David Atkinson, 75, and his wife moved into their home in St Stephen’s Avenue in December 2014, and said ever since then they have received notices once a month addressed to a previous occupant about outstanding council tax.

Despite telling the council several times about the problem, they then received an enforcement notice, saying if the money is not paid by Saturday, March 11, bailiffs will remove property.

Mr Atkinson said: “The council has done nothing. They have been told so many times they sent out these notices.

“My wife has not been able to sleep, and I’ve got an irregular heartbeat, so the stress has been affecting me.”

Mr Atkinson claims the man the notices are addressed to is not even liable for the payments, as he had moved out by the time they were meant to have been made.

“The estate agent could have told you that. The solicitor could have told you that. They just do not want to get involved.”

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“Does whoever is in charge know what is going on, and if so, why have they done nothing about it?”

The council said they had to continue issuing these orders to fill in a legal ticklist.

Colm O’Callaghan, head of finance at St Albans district council said: “In order to secure a liability order we must demonstrate to the court that we have issued the relevant recovery notices to the last known address.

“If we didn’t issue them we would be refused the liability order and therefore, ultimately, be unable to collect the debt.

“When the gentleman who moved into the address contacted us, we explained this situation and apologised to him for having to proceed in this way.

“But we did advise him we had no alternative but to issue further notices to that address so that we could complete the process, as we were unable to trace the former resident through other tracing processes.

“The bailiff has been informed that the debtor is not at the address and will not be visiting the premises.”