Bailiffs: What can they really do?
The Truth About What Bailiffs Can Really Do!
If you’ve been visited by an bailiff enforcement agent, it can be a very stressful situation, both for you, and your family. An enforcement agent is someone who has been authorised by the Council to visit your property with the sole purpose of recovering unpaid debts, such as Council Tax arrears. It’s important to know your rights and what bailiffs legally can and can’t do. Firstly, remember that bailiffs are regulated on what they actually do and not what they say. This means that they can sometimes give you conflicting and misleading information.
In this guide, we’ll discuss what they can and can’t do.
Note: Bailiffs are now also referred to as Enforcement agents, they carry out the same duties.
Can bailiffs force entry into my property?
In most cases, bailiffs are not allowed to force entry into someone’s home. However, in some scenarios, they are allowed to use ‘reasonable force’. This only applies if they have been granted a court order, or if you have previously given them permission to enter your home upon visiting. They are not allowed to push past you or break your windows. If they only have a liability order, make sure you do not let them inside, as this will make matters worse. A liability order allows them to chase you for unpaid council tax debt.
If you’re received a bailiff letter or visit, call Council Tax Advisors today for FREE advice and mediation – we’re able to negotiate an affordable and sustainable repayment plan for you.
What if they keep adding on fees every they visit?
Enforcement agents are allowed to add fees, fortunately, these fees can only be applied once onto each account. This means that if you owe council tax arrears for just one year, you should only expect one set of fees to be applied. As an example, if you owe council tax arrears for a period of 4 separate years, you will likely receive fees for each individual year. Here’s a breakdown of the current fee structure:
- Compliance Stage – Once your case is passed to the enforcement agent from the local authority, you will be charged £75
- Enforcement Stage – If a bailiff visits your property, they can charge you £235 for this visit. There is also an additional 7.5% for debts that exceed £1,500.
- Sale of Good Stage – If a bailiff removes items from your home or prepares them for sale, they will charge you £110, plus an additional 7.5% for debts that exceed £1,500.
Can enforcement agents take my car away?
If you’re in council tax debt, bailiffs do have the power to clamp and remove your vehicle if you own it i.e. it is not on any type of finance. The clamp will be removed and/or the vehicle returned, once you have repaid the outstanding debt. Some people mistakenly believe that if they park their car on their driveway, or at their neighbour’s address, this will prevent the car from being clamped, this is incorrect. We advise that if you do own a vehicle, that you park it as far away from the property as possible, within walking distance should be fine. Essentially you want to get the vehicle out of sight.
Remember, if a bailiff incorrectly clamps or removes someone else’s vehicle, who is not liable for council tax, you need to contact the council, and enforcement agency directly to make a complaint for unlawful action. If a vehicle has a log book loan attached to it, or it’s on hire purchase, no action can be taken as these are not fully owned by you.
Bailiffs have threatened me with locksmiths and removal trucks
As mentioned previously, if an enforcement agent only has a liability order and you have not let them inside your home previously, they can’t enter. Most cases don’t go beyond this stage, they can only enter your home with a locksmith if they have been granted a court order to do so. Generally speaking, it should only escalate to this stage for much larger debts. Unfortunately, even if you only owe £600 + fees, bailiffs will still say that they’re going to return with a locksmith and removal vans. They use this as an intimidation tactic to scare people so they find the money by any means necessary.
Sometimes bailiffs will give you misleading information, if you’re unsure about what to do and need help, speak to one of our specialist advisors. We’ve helped thousands of people resolve their council tax arrears and bailiff issues.
OK, but he said he’s coming with two removal trucks tomorrow
Don’t be alarmed. They’re trying to intimidate you. If you’ve been told by a bailiff that they will return with a removal van, just ignore them, the key thing to remember is, NEVER let an enforcement agent inside your property. If they want to park outside your home for 2 hours, let them sit there and continue with your day as you normally would.
- Always keep your doors and windows locked at all times
- Do NOT let a bailiff / enforcement agent inside your property
- If they do show up, do not engage with them, give us a call
Each individual case can differ, if you’re experiencing bailiff and enforcement issues, contact our expert advisors, we provide FREE advice and mediation services, we’re able to do the following:
- Contact the local authority (council) and enforcement agent on your behalf
- Get bailiff and enforcement action placed on hold for up to 28 days
- Mediate and negotiate an affordable and sustainable repayment plan for you
Call us today or alternatively complete the form on our website to request a call back