From the 31st of May, bailiffs will be permitted to enter people’s homes in order to make Controlled Goods Agreements, as opposed to the common practice of making virtual CGAs, which had been the norm since the advent of COVID-19. This has been done in coordination with the COVID restrictions that are currently being lifted across the UK.
Who are bailiffs?
Bailiffs, better known as “enforcement agents” are professionals charged by certain entities with important tasks. For example, a bailiff could be charged by a:
Creditor to enforce a fine or money debt.
Creditor to repossess certain goods or enforce and injunction
For bailiff help, knowing your rights and debt advice get in touch.
By a landlord to for eviction
A bailiff has the authority to repossess propertyTips For Dealing With Baliff
Nobody likes to get a visit from the bailiffs. It can be a traumatic experience and this is why you should be aware of your rights. Here are 6 tips to help you become aware of your rights in case of a visit from a bailiff.
Bailiffs have been restricted from home repossessions until April 1 but they can start knocking on doors for debts related to vehicles and consumer goods as of January 31. Coronavirus crisis-led lockdown has protected consumers from enforcement visits during that time. However, bailiffs are now being allowed to start their visits again, and still, there are few regulations when it comes to penalties or visits for their bad behavior.
The Ministry of Justice has been called upon by various charities for the introduction of a bailiffs regulator in order to hold these officers to account. Many organizations can help you with debts including National Debt line – 0808 808 4000, StepChange – 0800 138 1111, and Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060. Give them a call to get help with your problems.
Stay away from claims management firms that ask for a huge fee to help you with debts by writing off a big chunk.
The Ministry of Justice is doing a wider review and has asked to provide evidence of rogue behavior in November 2018 but nothing has been published yet. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice has told The Sun that the ministry is currently focused on the coronavirus crisis and they will get back to their call for evidence as early as possible.
It is important that you do not ignore your debt issues if you want to avoid a call from the bailiffs.
You will receive a ‘notice of enforcement’ stating that an agent is going to visit you before the bailiffs knock on your front door. If you’re anxious about not being able to pay important bills, it is important for you to get in touch with your creditors as soon as possible. There is a possibility that your creditors will allow for a new payment plan as per your financial situation and that should avoid a visit from bailiffs.
In such situations, you should always give a call to charities such as Citizens Advice and StepChange.
Things Bailiffs Can and Cannot Do
You need to be aware of your rights regarding what bailiffs are allowed to do and what they cannot do. You also need to understand the difference between debt collectors and bailiffs.
Debt collectors are not allowed to enter your home. Also, they can’t take possession of goods from you. On the other hand, bailiffs have have these powers as they are a court-appointed agent. However, bailiffs still have to follow certain rules and procedures. They are required to contact you first and provide you with an opportunity to pay the debt owed.
Currently, The Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) has issued a guidance that bailiffs cannot enter a home due to the coronavirus crisis other than in exceptional circumstances. The guidelines state that enforcement agents are not allowed to enter the premises for taking possession of goods, except in exceptional circumstances, and when it is safe for members of the public and the agent. However, this guidance is not always going to be there.
A bailiff had the right to enter the premises peacefully through the front door or back door when there was no coronavirus crisis.
They have to explain what is their role and why they are calling you. They are not allowed to enter the premises using force but if they have a warrant, they can use force to enter the premises.
The bailiff has the right to enter your home forcefully or use the services of a locksmith for the purposes of collecting a criminal fine or tax debts for HMRC when they have a warrant for the same.
Bailiffs do not have the right to enter your home by pushing past you or by climbing through the windows. They also do not have the right to enter premises when only a child up to the age of 16 is at home.
There are also time restrictions for the bailiff visit. A bailiff has the right to visit your home only between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. However, they can visit outside these hours in case they have a warrant.
Preparing for a Bailiff Visit
Here are a few tips to help you prepare when you expect a visit from the bailiffs.
Bailiffs were allowed to make entry only through unlocked doors before the guidance due to the coronavirus crisis came into being. Bailiffs could enter through locked doors when they had a warrant but not without one.
This is why it is recommended by StepChange to keep the doors and windows locked. The Gov.uk website also states that you are not required to open the door of your premises for a bailiff or allow them entry. You have the right to ask them to give the paperwork through the letterbox or show the paperwork to you through a window.
It is also recommended to keep the curtains drawn to prevent them from taking photos of your possessions. However, it is important for you to know that when you do not allow entry to a bailiff, they have the right to take valuables Outside the home such as your car.
In case you’re unable to find a way to clear your debts, you might end up owing more money. In case you allow them entry but won’t make the payment, bailiffs might take possession of some of your valuables.
Dealing with a Visit from Bailiffs
A visit from a bailiff is always stressful. However, it is important for you to try and remain calm. Don’t lose your temper under any conditions.
You should never allow the bailiff to take possession of your things or pay them without checking their identity as well as any writs or warrants they have. Ask them to provide the details of the company that employs them.
You should also ask them to give you a breakdown of your outstanding debt. This is also the time when you have the option to make payment in full or come to an agreement for a repayment plan. Don’t forget to take a receipt for payments made to them.
Bailiffs may also ask for fees for collecting the debt. However, the amount of money you pay depends on your particular situation.
Bailiffs Can Take Possession of Your Valuables
If this is the first time for a bailiff to visit your home, it is unlikely that they would take away any goods. During the first visit, it is more likely for them to make a controlled goods agreement which typically lists the items they are likely to possess.
Bailiffs are not allowed to take everything. They have to let you retain medicine as well as basic household items. Also, bailiffs have the right to only take goods you own.
If there is furniture in your house that belongs to an employer or a landlord, these goods can be marked as not belonging to you.
Hiding your valuables before a visit from a bailiff is fine. However, if you remove goods or hide them once the bailiff has visited your home and listed them, it will be considered a criminal offense.
, or seize your possessions and liquidate them for their cash value — the proceeds of which will be returned to your creditor to pay back an outstanding debt. A bailiff will be dispatched to repossess property if a debtor has failed in making payments to a County Court Judgment.
What is a bailiff?
A bailiff is a professional and an agent of the courts charged with collecting debts. There are four different types of bailiffs with different functions according to the type of debt being collected.
Private Bailiffs —these bailiffs are self-employed but can also be contracted by a private firm or some other organization. They are charged with collecting unpaid Council Tax as well as parking fines for local authorities. They will also be charged with collecting debts owed to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, but they can also be employed by a wide range of creditors for the sole purpose of collecting debts.
County Court Bailiffs — these bailiffs are employed by a County Court and charged with the collection of unpaid County Court Judgements and are bound to keep the guidelines laid out by the Lord Chancellor’s Department.
Sheriff / High Court Enforcement Officers — this type of bailiff is contracted by the High Court to operate in a specific geographical location. They will operate out of the Sheriff’s department and answer to the under-Sheriff who is also operating in the local area. If a creditor has a CCJ exceeding £600, including the costs of the courts, the judgment can be transferred to the judgment of the High Court to be enforced by High Court Enforcement Officers — unless it has been regulated by the Consumer Credit Act, in which case the enforcement can only be done through the County Court.
Magistrates Court bailiff — as the name implies, these bailiffs work for the office of the Magistrate and answer to the clerk of the court. These bailiffs typically only collect money owed in criminal cases.
All of these bailiffs are referred to as certified Bailiffs, which means they must be granted a certificate after satisfying certain requisites for the court. The requisites include the following stipulations:
The bailiff must be”
A ‘fit and proper person’ possessing sufficient knowledge of the law of distress.
And they must lodge a bond with the local court, deposit £10,000, or have an insurance indemnity of at least £10,000. If the old security runs out or is somehow reduced, a new security must be provided.
Debt collectors are NOT bailiffs
There are many debt collection agencies who will threaten to send a bailiff to your home to repossess property if you refuse to pay the amounts they request. But representatives of Debt Collection Agencies have no such authority.
You do not even need to speak to these people if you choose not to. If you have any doubts about this, you can call the toll-free number 0800 280 2816 for a full clarification on the powers of a bailiff.
When are bailiffs used?
Bailiffs can seize goods from a property, if payments are not made to your creditors and after the debt has been passed to the courts for enforcement. They can also be charged with repossessing your home and enforcing certain arrest warrants.
But before any actions can be taken, bailiffs will receive a warrant and instructions on how much you owe your creditors.
They can seize goods for:
County or High Court debts
Council Tax arrears
VAT and tax debts
Child support arrears
Do bailiffs have the right for power of entry?
As a general rule, you do not have to allow bailiffs to enter your home or commercial location, and they are not allowed to enter your home between the hours of 9pm and 6am. Furthermore, they are not allowed to force an entry onto your property on their first visit, as a matter of fact they are required to use “peaceable means” of entry.
However, bailiffs can enter through a:
However, they cannot enter your property via:
Climbing over a wall boundary division
Climbing a locked gate
Taking up floor boards
What happens when bailiffs gain ‘peaceful entry’?
The first thing the bailiff will do upon entering your home is perform a thorough search. They will not be repossessing anything on their first visit, but they will be making a list of things they can take and sell — called “seizing”.
Once they have entered your property, they have a right to enter all rooms of the home and can use force to gain access to closed parts of the property.
They can then come again and enter your home without your permission, even using force to enter, if necessary, to remove and impound all goods they are seizing.
Nevertheless, they are only permitted to enter the home and seize the goods needed to pay off the outstanding debt and cover their fees, no more. After they have completed their work, they are responsible for leaving the location “safe”.
Can a bailiff force entry?
The answer to this depends on the goods they will be repossessing and if they have already been to the location before. If the bailiff is collecting an unpaid CCJ and they haven’t visited this location before, they are not permitted to enter by force.
But there are some situations in which forced entry is permitted, including:
When collecting unpaid fines and with a Magistrates warrant, the bailiff can force entry.
If they have gained peaceful entry beforehand by means of peaceable entry, they can force entry on the next visit, if you do not allow them to enter.
When collecting income tax or VAT, bailiffs can force an entry with the permissions of the court, but only if a previous attempt at peaceful entry has been unsuccessful.
If they entered a different property and made a levy, they can now enter as they are “following the goods”.