40 point bailiff guide.
THE GOLDEN RULE: Never let a bailiff into your home: Keep all doors and windows locked with curtains and blinds closed. You must always protect your home from bailiffs.
If you are behind with debt you might receive a letter from bailiffs (or enforcement agents) saying they will visit your home to collect payment. Don't ignore this letter as the clock is ticking and bailiffs can visit your home 7 days after the notice of enforcement. As well as collecting the payment for the debt they can add fees. There are things you can do to stop them coming if you act quickly and contact the supportive team at Bennett Jones.
- Never let a bailiff into your home, keep all doors and windows locked. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and bullied, so it’s vital to know your rights and understand what you can do to protect yourself.
- Tell the bailiff to leave and say you’ll speak to their head office to discuss matters further, if the bailiff won't leave then you have a case for harassment.
- You don't have to allow a bailiff into your property, even if the bailiff has a warrant. They can only enter your home if you, or a family member over 16, invites them in, or if you leave a door open.
- Bailiffs are not allowed to force their way past you or put their foot in the door.
- Bailiffs cannot climb over walls or locked gates. The law states that bailiffs may only enter by any usual means. If you have an outer gate/door in your yard or garden, make sure it is locked or padlocked.
- Bailiffs are only allowed to visit your home between 6am-9pm.
- Bailiffs visits are not allowed on Sundays, Bank Holidays, Good Friday or Christmas Day unless a court order specifically permits this.
- Bailiffs can enter by force for an unpaid personal tax bill owed to HMRC or criminal court fines (council tax arrears are not criminal), but this has to be done by a locksmith. The threat of getting a locksmith to force entry is often just an intimidation tactic.
- Bailiffs use many tactics to lull you into a false sense of security, so don't engage in a conversation with a bailiff (or fall for a trick such as allowing them to use your toilet).
- You are not obliged to cooperate in any way. You do not have to confirm your identity or give your name, this applies to the police as well.
- Don't park your vehicle at your property or close by on a public road. Bailiffs can include your vehicle in a controlled goods agreement, or they can tow it away or get it clamped. They can do this if your vehicle is parked at your home or on a public road. But they can't take your vehicle if it's parked on someone else's private land unless they have a court order that allows this.
- You are not responsible for someone else’s debts. If a bailiff knocks on your door asking for someone you do not know, then tell them that this is the case and ask them to leave.
- Don't do anything silly like getting into an argument, swearing at them or throwing things at them. They want you to lose control, as they can get the police involved (the Police have a very cosy relationship with bailiffs as many of them are former officers
- A bailiff does not need to enter the property to take control of goods as they could list goods they can see through a window (close any curtains and blinds). If a bailiff lists goods they can see your window, it is your choice whether to sign the controlled goods agreement. If you do not sign, they cannot force entry to your home, and they cannot take control of the goods unless they are invited into your home.
- The creditor may withdraw the warrant if they think there’s no realistic chance that the bailiffs will be able to recover the money. This means they won’t return to your home. This is why you should never let a bailiff into your home or sign anything they give you.
- To escape the negativity associated with their title, bailiffs now call themselves ‘enforcement agents’.
- Bailiffs aren’t the same as debt collectors. Debt collectors come from private firms and don’t have the same powers to enter your property or seize goods.
- A bailiff must show ID and authority to enter premises on request. They cannot lie about who they are or why they’re calling.
- Call 999 if you're being threatened by a Bailiff.
- Video your interaction. A Bailiff or police officer cannot object to being filmed on your property.
- After sending you the notice of enforcement the bailiffs have to wait 7 full days before they can visit you.
- Bailiffs can't come to your home or take any action against you if you can prove you don't owe the debt.
- Bailiffs are enforcement agents, and have no powers of arrest, and neither do police community support officers (PCSOs).
- Council tax is enforced with a Liability Order which does not confer a power to enter your property unless allowed in by the occupant.
- Bailiffs cannot discuss your details with neighbours.
- Bailiffs employ a number of dubious tactics to gain entry to your house. The first is to come across as your friend, saying that they are "just here to help and sort out the situation", remember that all they want is an invitation to enter the property. The second tactic is to intimidate. This often means pretending that they have more powers than they actually have because in most cases they have very little power.
- A bailiff cannot take your belongings if you are abroad
- A bailiff cannot watch your house or loiter outside, as they are not acting in the execution of duty. Record the bailiff on video on video and report him to the police (Protection from Harassment Act 2007).
- Debt collectors have no enforcement power to take goods or enter your property. The most they can do is ask for the money. They sometimes pretend to have bailiff powers.
- The law states that all money must be paid to the creditor and Bailiffs take their fees last. Pay the creditor and not the bailiff company.
- Bailiffs cannot usually take mobile phone and computers because the devices contain personal data such as passwords.
- Sending multiple text messages or calls is not part of the enforcement regulations or procedures and can be recorded.
- Tell them to leave if they can’t prove who they are and threaten a 999 call.
- A bailiff is not allowed to break down your door, they must come back with a locksmith who will unlock the door (a rare occurrence).
- The creditor is liable for bailiffs acting on their behalf and you can bring an action for unlawful bailiff or enforcement action. Send the creditor a "Letter Before Action" which contains how much is owed, why it is owed, how to pay, a deadline and what will happen if they do not pay. Wait for the deadline and then start the claim at your local county court using Form N1.
- If you get a letter saying bailiffs are going to evict you, find out how to deal with eviction by bailiffs on Shelter’s website.
- Extra fees will be added to your debt when bailiffs get involved.
- £75 will be added to your debt when the initial Notice of enforcement letter is sent out.
- £235 +7.5% of the debt’s value over £1,500 will be added when the bailiff makes their first visit
- £110 +7.5% of the debt’s value over £1,500 will be added if the bailiff returns to remove your goods. Other storage and auction costs will be added if your goods are removed and sold.
- There have been how many documented cases of coercion and underhand tactics by bailiffs. If the police are in attendance they will often side with the bailiffs and sometimes assist. remember that the golden rule is to secure your property and never let the bailiffs enter. You are not obliged to confirm your identity or give any details to a bailiff. Simply ask them to leave and threaten them with an official complaint and legal action.
- If the bailiff challenges you on what you’ve told them, then you must politely decline any further contact.
- If you have aggressive creditors who are pressing very hard with bailiffs threatening to seize goods or perhaps a bankruptcy order is about to be made against you, it is possible to hold off proceedings by obtaining an interim order from a Court to allow time to hold the Creditors’ Meeting to get an IVA approved. The Interim Order has the effect of freezing all legal proceedings against you for a period of a few weeks.
If you have aggressive creditors who are pressing very hard with bailiffs threatening to seize goods or perhaps a bankruptcy order is about to be made against you, it is possible to hold off proceedings by obtaining an interim order from a Court to allow time to hold the Creditors’ Meeting to get an IVA approved. The Interim Order has the effect of freezing all legal proceedings against you for a period of a few weeks.
An IVA could be the essential option to get you out of debt. An IVA can stop bailiffs, with the exception of unpaid court fines, student loans and child support. All other debts, such as parking tickets, council tax, and high court writs can be paid off using an IVA and your insolvency practitioner will contact the bailiffs to stop the action.
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The sooner you start dealing with your debt, the sooner you’ll have it beaten. If you need some help getting started with a plan, or if you’re not sure about your exact circumstances, then please contact Bennett Jones for free, confidential help. Typically, the earlier you contact us, the better the outcome.
We will help you get out of debt, with your loans, credit cards, catalogues, payday loans and many other debts. Stop bailiffs and creditors harassing you over personal, business, or tax debts. We’ve given debt help to thousands of our customers, you can read about their stories and 5* reviews on Trustpilot. We have many years of experience helping people achieve stronger finances and become debt-free.