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BAILIFF RIGHTS AND POWERS

There are a strict set of rules that bailiffs (who are sometimes also referred to as enforcement agents) have to follow, and which determine quite clearly where and when they are allowed to visit you.

That’s why, if you’re worried about a visit from the bailiffs, it’s well worth familiarising yourself with these strict rules, so that you can feel more confident of the limits of their demands.

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CAN BAILIFFS ARRIVE UNANNOUNCED?

Short answer: No. All bailiffs are obliged to send you a notification by post ahead of any visit. So, assuming that the person to whom you owe money has your current address on file, you will get a written warning in advance of a bailiff’s visit.

The key stages of any recovery action are as follows:

  1. The person to whom you owe money will instruct a bailiff through issuance of awarrant of control.
  2. You will then be sent a notice of enforcement, by the bailiff, offering you a seven-day window of opportunity to clear the debt before a bailiff visits you.
  3. Should you fail to pay the debt, or make an arrangement to clear the debt, within that period of seven working-days, a bailiff will visit you with a view to entering your house and making a list of your goods.
  4. Bailiffs prefer to come away from that initial visit with what’s known as a ‘controlled goods agreement’, whereby you make an initial payment towards the debt, and agree to further payments. It is unusual for bailiffs to try and remove goods on that first visit.
  5. Should you fail to stick to the terms of this agreement, or if you ignore the bailiff altogether, they will return with a view to removing goods for selling to clear the debt.

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WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS WHEN BAILIFFS DO VISIT?

A visit from the bailiffs can be alarming, and there are a lot of scare stories out there. But it’s worth remembering that bailiffs are visiting with a view to collecting a debt, and it’s usually also in their own best interests for the visit to be civil and constructive. As such, it is highly unusual for bailiffs to use force. It is usually the case that they can only enter peacefully through the front or back door, having ensured that:

  • You understand who they are
  • You understand why they are there
  • You have given them permission to enter
  • They do not force entry.

Bailiffs are not allowed to:

  • Enter the house when it is empty, or if there is only a child/children under the age of 16 present
  • Employ a locksmith, force a lock, or break down a door
  • Enter the premises via anything other than a door (e.g. a window, skylight etc.)
  • Be in any way unclear or dishonest about the purpose of their visit
  • Barge past or prevent you from closing the door on them

The only exceptions to these rules, and indeed the only times bailiffs are allowed to consider using force (and even then usually only once a warrant to do so has been granted by a judge), are when they are pursuing criminal fines or taxes owed to HM Revenue & customs, or if you are in breach of a previously agreed controlled goods agreement.

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WHERE YOU CAN FIND THE BEST BAILIFF ADVICE

So how can you prevent bailiffs from coming in the first place?

The first thing to do is to arrange repayment of your debts before bailiff action is taken and, if bailiffs have not yet visited or listed any of your household goods, then you should arrange a repayment plan with your council. Council Tax Advisors can help with this, as we will liaise with local councils to organise reasonable, affordable repayment plans for those most vulnerable, low-income households. Drawing up an outline of your budget can help determine what is reasonable and, if you choose to organise payments with visiting bailiffs, then it is essential that you get a receipt for all money handed over.

Once you begin to make regular payments, you may ask the council for the account to be taken from the bailiffs, ending the process. If the bailiffs are unable to collect the debt and it goes back to the council they will normally write to you to tell you that they will be taking committal action to recover the debt. If you are unable to make the payment in full contact he council or council tax advisors to make an affordable offer of repayment. If you ignore the letter the council may issue a committal summons, adding costs to the bill. As soon as the debt is handed back, you should contact your council to confirm the same repayments you have been paying and, if they refuse your offer, you will need to attend the committal summons hearing. Take proof of payments and letters written to bailiffs and the council to this hearing.

Council Tax Advisors - Council tax and debt advice

Comprehensive bailiff advice is available from the team at Council Tax Advisors, with valuable guidance and help for anyone struggling with bailiff action or council tax debt. To benefit from our bailiff advice, simply contact us today on
01225 667 667

Bailiffs have a set of rules to abide by and, if you believe that a bailiff has acted wrongly at any point during the process, then you can write a letter to both the bailiff company and your local council they are acting on behalf of. Specific details of your complaint with dates and events should be included in this, and you should make sure to keep a copy of this correspondence for your own records.

If you do not receive a response to this letter, then send it again but, if nothing is done then you should contact Council Tax Advisors for further bailiff advice on who to speak to regarding your complaint. It is very important that residents experiencing problems with bailiffs and council tax debt contact a reliable service like ours as, by taking the wrong action or not equipping yourself with the important information, things can escalate very quickly. If bailiffs end up visiting your property, for example, fees can build up and add to existing debts.

For the most reliable, trustworthy bailiff advice and practical help with bailiffs, contact Council Tax Advisors and talk to our team of experts today.

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GETTING HELP WITH BAILIFFS

The best way to ensure a difficult situation doesn’t escalate into an upsetting and traumatic one is to seek impartial expert advice as soon as you receive any written notification from a bailiff – don’t ignore the letter in the hope that it will all just go away.

Our advice can help you formulate a reasonable budget and repayment plan and put you on the front foot in your response to any debt collection organisations.

And always remember that bailiffs simply want to collect the debt, and if you offer a clear and agreeable path to achieving this, they will be keen to work with you and will be just as keen as you to avoid escalating the situation.

We are more than happy to help you ensure that you receive the advice and planning guidance you need. To discuss your situation, call us now on 01225 667 667 anytime between 8am – 8pm, Monday – Friday

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