Celebrity Bailiff Unlawfully Entered Home of Innocent Couple
Celebrity Bailiff, Gary Brown, who stars on the TV show “Can’t Pay, We’ll Take it Away”, has admitted to a judge in Brighton County Court that he unlawfully entered the home of a couple and began going through their personal belongings.
Brown even boasted to the couple, as he was rifling through their possessions, that they would know him from the Channel 5 TV show.
However, the self-employed Bailiff had got it wrong. The couple, Leigh Bozkurt and her partner, Andrew Turner, were not the debtors he was looking for and there was no evidence that the debtor lived at their address.
Brown has now admitted he should have carried out more checks. It has also transpired the address was given to Direct Collections Bailiff’s Limited by the debtor himself. They then gave the information to Brown.
When can Bailiffs enter your Home?
The incident has now focused attention on the issue of what powers do Bailiffs have and how are they using them.
Gary Brown entered the home of the innocent couple via an unlocked door, which Bailiffs can do. He even began rummaging through their personal belonging without them being present.
When he was discovered he refused to stop and left the couple feeling “petrified” and “violated”. They also felt powerless to stop him and were intimidated by the way he dressed, which they said mimicked that of a police officer.
Bailiffs: Keeping them at the Door
Bailiff’s for the most part cannot force entry into someone’s home, unless they hold special authorisation to do so, which is only possible for certain types of debts, or if you are in breach of a “Controlled Goods Agreement”.
Preferably, you want to keep a locked door between yourself and a Bailiff and, if possible, speak to them through the letter box or by telephone. You do not want to give them the opportunity to even get a foot over the threshold.
Ask them to provide proof of who they are and ask they show you the paperwork they have. Make sure it is signed and dated and the name and address on it is yours or that of someone else who lives at your address.
Ask them who the creditor is. If it is not your debt, or the person who is named does not live at your address, tell the Bailiff and ask them to leave. Tell them you will contact their Head Office to resolve the matter.
Do not agree to pay them anything on your doorway or to accompany them to a cash machine to get cash.
If they are collecting the type of debt that allows them to enter your home by force, they will have a warrant or a writ from the Court authorising them to do so. Ask to see it.
The types of debt they can do this for are:
- Unpaid Magistrate Court fines (possibly for not paying your TV Licence); or
- Unpaid tax owed to HMRC (Income Tax, VAT etc.)
They cannot enter you home forcibly to collect other types of debts, such as:
- Council Tax;
- Credit cards and store cards;
- Personal loans;
- Gas and electricity bills;
- Catalogue debts;
- Parking fine.
What if the Bailiffs Enter your Home?
If Bailiff do gain entry into your home, either through an unlocked door, or if you give them access, or even if they use a locksmith, where they have the power to use one, you may still be able to negotiate a repayment plan with them.
If you do, they may make a “Controlled Goods Agreement”.
Controlled Goods Agreement
A Controlled Goods Agreement is an agreement that allows you to keep possession of the goods that the Bailiffs could remove and sell, providing you enter an agreement with them to repay the debt that you owe.
However, the Agreement prevents you from selling or giving away the goods, or intentionally damaging them. If you don’t stick to the Agreement, they can return and remove the goods.
This includes having the right to re-enter the property using force, even if it is for a debt that they would not normally be allowed to force entry for. They, however, cannot break into your home and must use a locksmith to do so.
If you have broken a “Controlled Goods Agreement” the Bailiffs must give you two days clear notice that they intend to re-enter your property to seize the goods. You should check the notice is correct and that it gives you enough notice. If it is not, you should contact the Bailiffs and make a complaint and insist you are given proper notice.
Even if the Notice is correct you should contact the Bailiffs and explain why you broke the agreement and ask if you can enter another agreement with them.
For more information, visit our page on Stopping Bailiffs and contact a Creditfix debt advisor for expert advice on 0808 2234 102.