BAILIFFS YOUR RIGHTS: What to do if a bailiff comes to your door? Failing to pay certain debts can result in a home visit from a bailiff or enforcement agent.
It happens most often when people ignore letters sent to them saying “bailiffs will be used”.
County court or family court judgments also get the same type of bailiff debt collection.
Note: can get arrested by an Approved Enforcement Agent for failing to pay a community penalty order.
Bailiff powers and your rights extend to several other reasons for a visit to your home. Typical examples include serving court documents or giving out notices and court summons.
There are four different types of bailiffs in the United Kingdom, known as:
- Approved Enforcement Agents (bailiffs who can enforce magistrates’ court fines and arrest warrants)
- Certificated enforcement agents (sometimes called civil enforcement agents)
- County court and family court bailiffs
- High court enforcement officers
Note: As a rule, bailiffs must provide you with at least seven (7) days of advance notice of their first visit. Refer to the sheriff officer powers when they visit your home or business if you are in Scotland.
Paying a Debt Before Bailiffs Visit
There is a way to stop a bailiff visiting your home to collect a debt. Paying the money that’s owed will stop the process. You may need to seek advice about how to pay off a debt.
Contact the person or company you owe money to without delay. They may be able to help you find a solution to paying off the debt before the bailiffs arrive. Read more about county court judgments for debt if you are unable to pay.
How to Deal with Bailiffs
In most cases, the law does not force you to open your door to a bailiff or to let them come inside your property. As a rule, high court bailiffs powers do not allow them to enter a home:
- Using forceful measures (e.g. barging or pushing their way past you).
- If only vulnerable people or children under the age of sixteen (16) are present and unaccompanied. An example of vulnerable people would be someone with a disability.
- After 9pm in the evening or before 6am in the morning.
- Through any entrance other than the door of the property.
There are some consequences of not letting a bailiff in your home or not agreeing to pay them. In situations such as these, bailiffs can:
- Take away things from outside the home (e.g. your car).
- Pursue the case even further – which could mean you end up with a bigger debt.
What happens if you let a bailiff inside your home but do not pay the debt?
In this case bailiffs have the power to take some of your personal belongings. They can then sell the items to pay off your debts and cover their fees.
How to Check the Identity of a Bailiff
You should always check the identity of a bailiff before letting them inside your home. Before they take any of your things, or you make a payment, ask them to show you:
- Proof of identification. This may be an ID card, a badge, or an enforcement agent certificate.
- The name of the company they are working for.
- A contact telephone number for their company.
- A detailed breakdown of the amount that they say you owe.
Furthermore, you should always ask for proof of a bailiff’s identity. You can also ask them for their authorisation even on repeat visits. Get them to put the proof through your letterbox or show it at your window.
As a rule, all bailiffs must carry their certificate with them. Some exceptions apply for those who are exempt. The same exception applies for bailiffs accompanying another who has their own certificate.
Approved Enforcement Agents should be from one of these companies:
- Compliant Data-Led Engagements & Resolutions (CDER) Group
- Excel Civil Enforcement Limited
- Marston Holdings Limited
- Swift Credit Services Limited
Note: Claiming to be a bailiff if you are not is committing fraud in the United Kingdom. In some cases, you can contact the court that sent them to check.
How to Pay a Bailiff: Your Rights
- Doorstep debt collection rules allow you to pay money to a bailiff on the doorstep. Thus, there is no requirement to let them inside your home.
- After paying the bailiff always get a receipt to prove you made the payment.
- If you can only make a part payment, ask the bailiff for options of how you could repay the balance.
Note: You can make an offer to pay what you can afford. That could be in weekly or monthly installments. But, the bailiff can choose to refuse your offer of paying by installments.
Items Bailiffs Can and Cannot Take
Bailiffs can only take belongings from your home if you let them inside. Hence, if you do let a bailiff in, they can take some of your personal items to sell off.
As a rule, they can take ‘luxury items’ (e.g. a games console, a set of golf clubs, or a television). But, bailiffs cannot take:
- Items that you need. Necessities include things like a cooker, a fridge, or your clothes.
- Work equipment and work tools if altogether the value is less than £1,350.
- Items that belong to someone else (e.g. your partner’s games console, golf clubs, or laptop computer).
Note: You will need to prove that the goods belong to someone else if they are not your goods. Even so, you can make a complaint about a bailiff’s conduct if you feel they broke the rules.
What Fees Can Bailiffs Charge?
Bailiffs will charge various amounts when they act against people with debt. The fees charged by bailiffs will vary with each of the three stages in any given situation.
Even so, some bailiffs charge Value Added Tax on top of their standard bill (e.g. high court enforcement officer powers).