What to Do if I Can’t Pay My Rates Bill?

This Debt Advice Applies to Individuals of Northern Ireland Only

Domestic rates in Northern Ireland is considered a priority bill. Failing to pay this bill will result in drastic consequences.

Rates bill is a property tax that landowners or homeowners have to pay to the LPS or Land and Property Services. When you’re renting in Northern Ireland, the payment for these bills is included on your rent. You can ask your landlord to ensure that it does.

Since this is among your priority bills, you have to reach out to the LPS once you fall in arrears. You can contact to make arrangements on how you can pay your arrears before the next bill comes in. It’s much better to send them a copy f your current budget that indicates both your income and expenditure. This will imply how much you can afford due to your current financial circumstances.

We can help you create a realistic budget showing your income and outgoings. Besides, if you are struggling to pay your priority bills, you need debt experts to help you.

Moreover, if you failed to make payments to the Land and Property Services, they can start court actions against you. These can make you pay additional costs on top of your bill.

Paying Rates In Northern Ireland

Land and Property Services (LPS) will supply the annual bill every March of the year. Your first payment will be due in April, yet you can pay it as a whole or spread the amount over the year.

Calculating Rates Bill

The domestic rate consists of the regional rate, initiated by the Northern Ireland Executive, and the district rate, introduced by your local council.

Rates are determined by calculating the cost of your house in 2005 and multiplying it with the domestic rate of your region or local area.

Utilising your home’s value, your estate’s share for public services, such as education, waste management, hospitals are determined.

Am I qualified to a rates reduction or relief?

You may be qualified to reduced your rates bill under the following conditions:

  • You’re qualified to a 25% disabled persons’ exemption if your estate has happened to be accommodated by a person with a disability
  • Qualified beneficiaries of the 70% lone pensioner discount when living alone at over 70 years old
  •  If your home has been affected by notable surges in rates, you may be qualified for an automatic district rates subsidy

Moreover, you will be entitled to housing benefit involving rates if you met the following set of requirements.

  • You own your estate or home who bought your property without utilising a rent to buy scheme or rent to own scheme, or through a co-ownership arrangement
  • You’re entitled to claim benefits in the UK
  • Your total assets should be valued not more than £16,000, or over £50,000 when beyond state pension age

Additionally, your bill rates should be included if you’re getting an Income Support or income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance. Also, the entire rates bill should be covered on the guarantee element of Pension Credit.

On the contrary, if you do not satisfy all of the above requirements for housing benefit for rates, you still have a chance to be evaluated for rate relief. This is a means-tested reduction into your rates bill.

What if I’m in arrears on my rates bill?

Just like any other priority bills, you’ll get a reminder once you miss payments on your rates bill. You’ll have seven days to settle your arrears or speak with LPS to negotiate an affordable amount.

If you ignore the reminder on your rates bill arrears, LPS can:

  • asked to pay the rates bill arrears in full and not through installment payments by dispensing a final notice.
  • consider legal suit or action to compel you 
  • forward the debt to the Enforcement of Judgments Office or EJO
  • petition for your bankruptcy if your debt is over £5,000

You must not ignore once you get a notice. Although imprisonment is rare, it would be possible if you deliberately ignore your obligation with the EJO.

If you get a final notice. you’ll have 10 days to respond and negotiate to LPS or settle your arrears. When you ignore this notice, a court proceeding may commence and the costs will be added on your bill.

One LPS consider court actions, you’ll receive a process in debt proceedings, a notice to notify you about the court action. The notice contains the amount you need to pay, the additional costs including court fees as well as the date and time of the court hearing.

If you’re able to settle the full amount within the given period, the hearing will be cancelled. Conversely, if you’re unable to make payments, it can be difficult for you to arrange payment during this phase.

During the hearing, you are not expected to attend the hearing. This is usually held at the local magistrate’s court, unless when you file for disputes. When this happens, you can get advice from Housing Rights before the hearing date.

What should I do if I think my rates bill is not accurate?

If you have any issues concerning your rates bill, get in touch with your local authority right away. When you feel of being treated unfairly or when you feel that your property valuation is inaccurate, you can also file a complaint.

If you’re not satisfied with the response of your local authority, you may contact LPS instead. If you are uncertain who to contact, and the process of filing complaint, you can check the NI Direct Government Services website. 

Debt Help and Advice

Once you feel exhausted with debt payments, or when you notice that you are compromising your essential living costs to pay your debts, contact us. We can help you deal with your circumstances. We have debt experts who can help you determine the best alternatives to solve your debt problems. For free debt advice, you can calls us or use our online deb advice tool.