What is a bailiff?
A bailiff is someone who has the legal power to recover debts on behalf of creditors.
They can do this by asking you to pay what you owe or by seizing some of your assets to sell, in order to pay off your debts. They can be instructed by courts or appointed by a private firm. Creditors normally turn to bailiffs when they’ve tried all other recovery options.
Bailiffs can collect a range of debts, including:
- Council tax
- High court and county court judgements
- Parking penalties
- Child support
- Income tax
- National insurance
- Business rent
- Magistrate court fines
Do bailiffs have the power of entry?
To an extent, yes. They may enter, but only under certain circumstances. If they try to enter under the wrong circumstances, they are breaking the law.
Do I have to let them in?
No, you don’t have to let them in. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t. They can make multiple visits requesting access to your home and they may be permitted to enter by force eventually.
When bailiffs visit, they must:
- Identify themselves
- Declare the purpose of their visit and for whom they are acting
- Ask your permission to enter
When bailiffs visit, they must not:
- Enter your home without permission
- Force entry unless collecting a criminal fine, tax or to remove goods following a breach of controlled goods agreement
- Force entry on their first visit
- Force entry without the correct warrant
- Enter your home if the only person at home is aged 16 or under
- Enter your home if the only person at home is disabled
- Enter through any means other than the door
- Visit your property between the hours of 9pm and 6am
What can and can’t bailiffs take?
If you allow bailiffs to enter your property, they can begin seizing property.
Bailiffs can take luxury items such as:
- Gaming consoles
Bailiffs cannot take necessities such as:
- White goods such as fridges, freezers or washing machines
- Work tools and equipment with a combined value of less than £1,350
If you do choose to allow a bailiff into your home, they’ll ask you to set out which items belong to you and which don’t. If you claim certain items don’t belong to you, bailiffs may ask you to prove this is the case. If they suspect the items do belong to you and you can’t prove otherwise, the bailiffs may seize these items.
What happens when they gain peaceful entry?
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.
This documentation will be completed and secured against a newly signed payment plan which you have to stick to, or they can revisit for the items noted.
Whilst the bailiff cannot take items away upon entering a property peacefully for the first time, they are now allowed to return to the premises and if necessary, enter forcefully to seize property in order to sell it. It’s important to remember to be very wary and know your rights before ever granting access to a bailiff to your property.
What can I do when I get served a notice that a bailiff is coming to my house?
A bailiff is not allowed to visit your property until a notice of enforcement is served. If a bailiff is going to visit your property, you must be given at least seven days’ notice of this visit and the notice must be given either in writing by post or hand delivered to you.
If you’ve received a Notice of Enforcement, call Creditfix immediately to discuss your options. We’re here to help and offer free, impartial advice.