What is a sheriff officer?
Sheriff officers are officers of the Scottish court. They may be employed by firms of sheriff officers, or be self-employed sole traders. They enforce court orders and can serve you with numerous documents relating to eviction, debt enforcement, property disputes and family matters.
Do I have to let a sheriff officer in?
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 your property.
You should always check the ID of any person claiming to be a sheriff officer. Sheriff officers typically carry an official badge or ID card. They should also have an identity booklet with a photograph and the crest of the Scottish court service.
The sheriff officer should confirm the following information to you when they visit:
- The individual, company or organisation they are representing
- A telephone number on which you can contact the organisation
- The exact details of the amount it is claimed you owe
In most cases the sheriff officer may have a witness present. The witness is not required to show you documentation as they are not under court order.
Do they need to warn me before taking action?
Yes. Sheriff officers must inform you of any action they are going to take and the date they intend to take it, with no less than two weeks notice.
What can and can’t sheriff officers take?
If you allow sheriff officers to enter your property, they have similar rights to those of a bailiff in England and Wales, but they cannot remove goods on their visit.
They are allowed to document luxury possessions to be sold at a later date if you don’t stick to an agreed payment plan.
Can a sheriff officer physically remove me from my property?
Yes, If the sheriff officer has notified you of eviction they can remove you. If you do not leave the property you may be formally charged by the police. Police may accompany a sheriff officer to an eviction, but they cannot help with the eviction directly.
Can a sheriff officer enter my house if no one is in?
Sheriff officers can force entry if no one is present in your property, but only if they are enforcing an eviction, ensuring work has been carried out or to recover goods.
Can they enter my property in the middle of the night?
No, they can only enter your home between the hours of 8am and 8pm and not on a Sunday or public holiday.