Being in debt can be some of the most stressful times of a persons life. With knocks at the door and a constant bombardment of phone calls demanding money you simply don’t have becoming a daily occurrence.
The best advice we can offer is to know your rights. Would you know what to do if a bailiff or sheriff officer turned up to your door demanding entry ?
The more you know the better equipped you are to make the best decision when it comes to dealing with debt collection. We aim to give you as much knowledge and expertise so that the next time there is an unexpected knock at the door you know what to do.
A bailiff is someone who has the legal power to chase debts on behalf of creditors. They can do this by asking you to pay what you owe or by seizing what you own and selling it in order to pay off your debts. They can be court issued or appointed by a private firm. They are normally used when creditors have tried all other options.
Do I have to let them in?
In the majority of cases a bailiff must declare who they are, why they are calling, enter with your permission and without using force. A bailiff can only use force to enter a property when they are collecting a criminal fine, taxes or to remove goods following a breach of a controlled goods agreement. In most cases you are not permitted to let bailiffs into your home or business. They are prohibited from entering your property to recover assets to pay your debts between the hours of 9pm and 6am. They also are not allowed to force entry on their first visit to your property or without having the appropriate warrant to do so. Bailiffs cannot enter your home:
- By force
- If only a child under the age of 16 or people with disabilities are present
- Between the hours of 9pm and 6am
- By entering your property through anything other than the door.
Bailiffs can collect on various debts such as:
- council tax
- High court and county court judgments
- Parking penalties
- Child support
- Income tax
- National insurance
- Business rent
- Vat magistrate court fines
If you allow bailiffs to enter your property, they can take some of your possessions to sell in order to balance your debts. Bailiffs can take luxury items such as TVs, computers and gaming consoles. However, they are not allowed to take necessities such as clothes and white goods which include fridges, freezers and washing machines.
Work tools or equipment that together has a combined value of less than £1350. Finally, and most importantly if you allow a bailiff into your home to seize property to settle your debts you must ensure that you set out what belongs to you.
Belongings of someone else that are at your property, i.e. property of your partner. In this case you have to be able to prove that the belongings in question do not belong to you. You must be able to prove that any of these items do not belong to you or they are at risk of being seized to pay your creditors.
A debt collector is not the same as a bailiff in that they have no powers of office. Whilst bailiffs are allowed to remove property in order to sell to settle debts to your creditors, debt collectors are not. Whilst bailiffs can be acting on actions requested by County courts and Magistrate’s debt collectors are usually employed by individual creditors. This can happen due to owing creditors money and for them to either sell on this debt or directly employ debt collectors.
Most importantly debt collectors are not allowed to pretend or imply to be a bailiff or sheriff court officer as this is against the law. Debt collectors are not allowed to take any of your belongings or clamp your car in order to try and elicit payment of your debts. Debt collectors are not allowed to visit you are your workplace or behave in a harassing manner to wards you. Debt collectors are not allowed to force their way into your house or refuse to leave when asked.
However, debt collectors are allowed to do a variety of things such as visit you at your home and ask you to make a payment to them or who they are working on behalf of. Debt collectors are allowed to speak to you directly in regards to your debts in order to attempt to set up a payment arrangement scheme.
If you are wanting to make a complaint about a debt collector you can do this through the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Bailiffs do to an extent have a power of entry. Whilst bailiffs are allowed to enter your property this can only be done under certain circumstances in which they are required by law to abide by.
Bailiffs are not allowed to come to your property at reasonable hours such as between 9pm and 6am. Bailiffs are not allowed to use force to enter a property i.e., push past you. Lastly, bailiffs are only allowed to enter a property through a door, no other means.
If you have granted a bailiff peaceful entry into your property you have to be aware that their rights have now changed. Bailiffs are allowed to go into each and every room and document items to take away for sale to settle the outstanding balance of your debt. This documentation will be done and secured against a newly signed payment plan which you have to stick to or they can come back on another visit for the items noted.
Whilst the bailiff cannot take away items upon entering a property peacefully for the first time they are now allowed to return to the premises. Upon being granted peaceful entry to a property the bailiff can now return to the property without your permission and enter forcefully to seize property in order to sell. So it should be noted, be very wary and know your rights before ever granting access to a bailiff to your property.
A bailiff is not allowed to come to visit at your property until a notice of enforcement is served. If a bailiff is going to come and visit your property you must be given at least 7 days’ notice of this visit and the notice must be given either in writing by post or hand delivered to you.
We here at Creditfix advise that if you have received a notice that a bailiff is coming to you to discuss claiming property. We advise that you read the rest of our sections on bailiffs and how to deal with them to be best informed and now your rights in regards to the matter.
- Never let them in
- Don’t let them threaten you
- At no time sign anything
- Call us for advice/support
- Ensure they have the proper documentation such as badge or id card. Every sheriff officer has an identity booklet with a photograph of themselves and the crest of the Scottish court service.
- What company they are working on behalf of.
- A telephone number you can contact them on
- The exact details of the amount in question that you owe.
- In most cases the sheriff officer may have a witness present they are not required to show you documentation as they are not under court order.
Are officers of the court, who are employed by firms of sheriff officers or are often at times even self-employed. They enforce court orders and can serve you with numerous notices: eviction, debt enforcement, property disputes and family matters.
Sheriff officers can only enter your home if they have the correct authority from the court. They need to be able to show the appropriate documentation before they enter your property. If you refuse the officer entry and they have the authority of the court they can use what is known as ‘necessary reasonable force’ to enter the property.
Sheriff Officers must inform you of any action they are going to take on the date of eviction, you should in most cases be provided with 2 weeks notice.
If you allow sheriff officers to enter your property, they have similar rights as that of a bailiff in England & Wales.
This is the case that sheriff officers are allowed to document luxury possessions for sale at a later date if a payment plan is not stuck to.
If the sheriff officer has notified you of eviction, you can be physically removed from your home. if you do not leave the property at such time you may be formally charged by the police. As often police can be asked to accompany a sheriff officer to an eviction but they cannot help with the eviction directly.
Sheriff Officers can force entry if no one is present in the property, but only if they are enforcing an eviction, ensuring work has been carried out or recovering a property.
If you are being threatened by bailiff action or your wages have been arrested, you should call our customer service line on 0800 0431 431 and your request will be actioned accordingly.
Unless you are receiving demands for payment then you don’t have to worry. Creditors will within their rights continue to send you statements and letters of default. We have a designated team who will send your creditors all the relevant documents they require.
Please allow up to 4-6 weeks for your request to be actioned by your creditors.
At Creditfix we will always do our utmost to help our clients in dealing with creditor hassle. While we stress that protection from creditors cannot be guaranteed until an arrangement has been approved, our customer service team are on hand to advise you of certain steps you can take to combat hassle from Creditors.
We would advise that you stress to your creditors your intention of entering into an arrangement with ourselves, and if it is feasible maintain the minimum payments to creditors until such an arrangement is in place. This will make the process run smoother once the arrangement is in place.
In very rare circumstances of which creditor hassle persists after the arrangement has been approved. Our Customer service team will contact creditors immediately and ensure all further correspondence is channelled through Creditfix and not our clients.
While we cannot guarantee the ceasing of action of a debt collector, we can advise you of certain steps you can take to limit the hassle which you are receiving.
We stress that a debt collector is acting on behalf of an original creditor, therefore, it is the original creditor whom would be your best point of contact to advise of your arrangement with Creditfix. If you have any outstanding debts with firms, companies or individuals you may hear from them regarding this. Debt collectors may be employed to attempt to convince you to pay the debt it must be noted that they have no legal standing in this matter.
If you have been harassed by a debt collector you may wish to take note of their name and employer to take to the police regarding their behaviour or actions.
Debt collectors are different than Bailiffs and Sheriff officers in that the latter have legal standings and rights to take action to collect debts. For information on Bailiffs and Sheriff officers check the Bailiffs section of our site.
Once arrangement has been approved, all correspondence of this type will be channelled through Creditfix. At this point a debt collector is no longer allowed to contact you directly. Once a financial arrangement is approved and started Debt Collectors must cease all action on behalf of the original creditor. However, if this persists please make our customer service team aware who will be more than happy to deal with any queries in regards to such matters. For help in regards to this, please call 0141 413 8620.