Bailiffs

Do I have to let the Bailiffs in ?

IF THE BAILIFFS HAVE NOT BEEN INTO YOUR HOME BEFORE TO COLLECT THIS DEBT, THEY HAVE NO RIGHT TO COME IN. THEY CANNOT BREAK IN. YOU CAN CHOOSE NOT TO LET THEM IN. DON’T open the door to them as they may try to push past you. If they get inside, they have a right to enter again and may break in to take your goods. DON’T leave windows open or doors unlocked – bailiffs can legally get in through these.

Bailiffs CANNOT get the police to help them break in. BEWARE! Some bailiffs may leave you a phone number, and arrange to come round to have a chat. Don’t let them in, even if they say it’s only to use the toilet or make a phone call. Bailiffs MAY try to break into sheds, garages, greenhouses etc., even though this is illegal. KEEP VALUABLES SAFE! They may be able to take cars, motor-bikes and other vehicles parked near your home. Politely but firmly refuse to let the bailiffs in. Offer what you can afford to pay.

If the bailiffs accept your offer, ask them to return to their car, and go out and pay them. Make sure you get a receipt. DON’T SIGN ANYTHING! If the bailiff leaves papers for you to sign and return, you do not have to do this. You don’t have to sign agreements posted through your door either. Bailiff Matters would like to wish Bailiff Watchdog every success. Please click on their site Logo above to go to their site. It is great to see more and more people getting together to fight the Injustices, the Criminality and general Thuggish bad behaviour of the Bailiff Industry.

How Do I Stop The Bailiffs?

You can try to make an arrangement to pay the debt back at a rate that you can afford. You can offer the money directly to the bailiffs, although it is easier to get them to accept your offer if they have never been into your home. Always get a receipt for any money you pay. Bailiffs cannot send you to prison. If the bailiffs have never been into your home and they will not accept your offer, all they can do is to pass your debt back to the Council. It is important to make an arrangement to pay the Council, or they may try other ways of recovering the money, such as taking money out of your wages. If the bailiffs refuse your offer it is important to put the money you have offered aside so you can pay it to the Council as soon as the debt is passed back to them. Write to the bailiffs and the Council telling them you are saving the money up as the bailiffs have refused to take your payments.

If you are on Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance, some council’s have a policy for not using bailiffs and will accept an offer from you or agree to accept direct payments from your benefits. Ask your Council if they are willing to take the debt back from the bailiffs so you can pay them directly.

If the Council won’t help then contact your local councillor and ask them to take it up with the Council for you. Explain what hardship you will be in if the bailiffs come to your home and take your belongings.

All You Need To Know About Bailiffs

Having a bailiff knocking on your door is not something anyone looks forward to and can be quite traumatic. However, it is much easier to deal with if you are well-read on your rights and know exactly what a bailiff can and cannot do by law.

What is a bailiff?

An official who has the power by law to execute writs, processes, and arrests.
An overseer of an estate; a steward.
You owe money to creditors (these may be credit card companies, banks, loan firms and others). A bailiff has authorisation to collect a debt on behalf of a creditor.

Debts bailiffs are allowed to collect include:

CCJs
Magistrates court fines
Unpaid child support and council tax
Unpaid rent

Different types of bailiffs collect different types of debts. From county court bailiffs and certificated bailiffs to private bailiffs. And many creditors use certificated bailiffs who have provided references to the county court for approval. Bailiffs who collect such debts as rent arrears and traffic penalties must be certificated.

A bailiff must be legally authorised to collect the debt on behalf of the creditor.

What does this mean?

This means that the warrant of execution/warrant/liability order/distress warrant has been legally authorised by a magistrates court.Do they have the power to enter my home and seize goods?

Yes. Bailiffs do have that power. However, do not get Bailiffs confused with debt collectors or counsellors who are simply representatives of your creditors. They will try to renegotiate repayments with you and do not have power to enter your home and seize goods, they only have power to try to renegotiate repayment terms.

How do I know the difference?

Bailiffs must provide identification or authorisation if requested by you. This identification/authorisation will include a certificate from the county court or written authorisation from the local authority.When can a bailiff turn up?

Rent collecting bailiffs must call between sunrise and sunset by law. Bailiffs collecting any other unpaid debts can call anytime, day or night, work day or week end. Generally though, bailiffs tend to call during regular office hours give or take a few hours.Can a bailiff force entry into my house if I’m not there (or don’t answer?)

In general no bailiffs are not able to break into your home to seize goods. The Inland Revenue can obtain a warrant to force entry in extreme cases, however this is infrequent.Bailiffs are able to gain peaceful entry to your house through an open door or window and are even allowed to climb over fences and gates to gain access if necessary.

What you should know:

You are not obliged to let a bailiff into your house. So if one turns up at your door, you don’t have to let them in.
Bailiffs are not allowed to force their way past you when you open the door.
You can prevent a bailiff from gaining peaceful entry by keeping your doors and windows closed securely.

What a bailiff might do to gain peaceful entry?

Try to walk into your house as soon as you open the door to them
Ask if they can use your telephone or toilet
Ask if you can take the discussion inside

You are not obliged to let a bailiff gain peaceful entry using any of these methods.

If they gain peaceful entry, bailiffs are allowed to:

Break open locked doors or cupboards inside your home
Call again and enter the house without your permission (by breaking in if necessary) if they have gained peaceful entry previously.

Seize goods that belong to the person named on the warrant. You should show receipts to the bailiff if someone else purchased the goods being seized.

And should a bailiff seize goods that are subject to a Hire Purchase agreement, you must seek urgent advice. Items bought on hire purchase do not yet belong to you, and won’t until the final payment is made, so they should not be seized unless there are circumstances that allow this.

What happens if I refuse entry to a bailiff?

You will not be arrested or face any penalties or imprisonment. Police will occasionally accompany a bailiff, but only to keep the peace. However, if a bailiff does gain peaceful entry and you try to remove them, you could be taken to court for assault.Non payment of council tax, child support or court fines can, however, lead to imprisonment if you ‘wilfully refuse’ to pay (ie, you have the money but choose not to pay anyway).

If a bailiff does gain entry, what will happen next?

Once in your home a bailiff will attempt to seize goods of value that belong to the person who owes the money to the creditor they are collecting the debt for. This person will be named on the warrant.The seized goods will then be sold at public auction to pay the owed debt.

You will be asked to sign a ‘walking possession agreement’ which means you are handing over possession of the seized goods to the bailiff. The goods can now be removed at any time, although the bailiff can allow you to keep the items and continue to use them as long as you honour the agreement and make the necessary agreed payments.

You must only sign a walking possession order if a bailiff has gained peaceful entry to your home and seized goods (by marking them, labelling them or touching them). Do not sign anything if a bailiff simply posts the possession order through your letterbox after making a list of possessions from looking through your window.

A walking possession order costs a daily charge which must be paid o top of the original debt owed if the items are sold at auction. However, it is important to remember that goods will generally fetch only 10% of their true value at auction which means a bailiff will try to seize goods to the value of ten times what you owe.

What goods is a bailiff unable to take?

Bailiffs cannot seize:tools, goods, vehicles and other items of equipment necessary for use by you in your employment, business or vocation; clothing, bedding, furniture, household equipment and provisions as are necessary for satisfying the basic domestic needs of you and your family (including fridge, cookers, freezers, but may not include video recorders, second TV’s, jewellery, washing machines, stereos or microwaves).

Can I hide goods from the bailiff?

You can, but if they’ve gained peace entry, a bailiff can revisit at any time to seize the goods whether or not you are there. If it is obvious you have hidden goods of value, they will likely return until they find such goods.Will I warned in advance about a bailiff’s visit?

Yes, County court bailiffs must issue a warning notice giving you 7 days to pay before a bailiff will visit. While local authorities are obliged to inform you about a proposed bailiff visit to collect council tax by sending you a letter giving 14 days notice of the visit.

Do I have to pay the bailiff’s fees?

It depends which type of bailiff comes to visit and whether goods are seized. Bailiffs collecting council tax can charge fixed fees (£20 for a first visit and £15 for a second where no seizure of goods is made). If you think a bailiff’s fees seem excessive, seek further advice about getting a detailed assessment.

What should I do if a bailiff is about to visit my home?

Lock your doors and windows and don’t allow entry to the bailiff (as you don’t have to let them in). Preventing peaceful entry to your home will mean they can’t seize your goods lawfully.If a bailiff cannot gain entry or they do gain entry but find you don’t have enough goods to pay the required debt and fees, they will return the warrant to the court or local authority

Apply to the court to suspend the warrant if your debt is an unpaid CCJ. You can apply to vary the installments you’ve been ordered to pay by completing form N245 (you can get this at any magistrates court). A fee of �30 will be chargeable unless you are receiving tax credits or job-seekers allowance (which you must show proof of receipt for).

For unpaid council tax you can also try to negotiate installment payments with your local authority and encourage them to withdraw the warrant from the bailiff. Make it clear that you want to pay back what you can afford each month, despite not wanting to let the bailiff in.

For information about enforcement agency and bailiff rules and guidelines, visit:
www.lcd.gov.uk
www.acea.org.uk

Bailiffs and the Human Rights Act

The Human Rights Act, which came into force in October 2000, may see bailiffs being used less frequently. Part of the Act protects your right to ‘peaceful enjoyment of possessions and respect for your privacy, family life and home’.
In practice, this should mean that courts and public authorities use bailiffs more as a last resort, and should consider using less intrusive and distressing ways of getting you to pay what you owe. These include: Benefit deductions; Attachment of earnings; and Voluntary payment arrangements.

If you are unsure which step to take to solve your debt problems, ask the opinion of our professional debt advisers.