There are so many myths and legends surrounding the role of bailiffs that you’d think they weren’t even real people doing a job, but we’re here to let you in on a couple of secrets. Bailiffs would very much like you to think of them as super villains with powers far beyond your control, but this simply isn’t true. They have to abide by the rules of their job – which are actually quite reasonable – just like anyone else and, armed with the right knowledge, you can easily take back control. Here are some of the most common bailiff myths:
Bailiffs are always allowed to force entry – too many people think that, just by turning up at your home, a bailiff is always allowed to force entry but this, actually, is rarely the case. Bailiffs are only allowed to use force to gain entry if you have peacefully allowed the entry on a previous occasion, as a last resort or with permission from a court as they are collecting unpaid income tax or VAT. Some bailiffs think that, because so few people are aware of their rights, they can be aggressive and forceful no matter what the circumstances.
Once inside, Bailiffs can take whatever they want – while Bailiffs are certainly allowed to take items belonging to the person in debt (including jointly owned items), they should never take possessions that belong to family members, housemates or children. In addition to this restriction, bailiffs should never remove basic domestic items such as bedding, clothes, ovens or fridges. If it is an essential household item, then you should be able to keep it with you – no excuses.
Bailiffs can show up with no warning – a rule was actually passed in 1998 that prevented this, with local authorities now obliged to give residents at least 14 days notice of a bailiff visit to collect overdue council tax, and this means that if you are being visited by bailiffs without any forewarning, this is entirely illegal. Subsequently, bailiffs working for the country court must give you at least seven days to pay the debt before anyone is sent to your property to collect.