One of the biggest problems people face when dealing with bailiffs is knowing what a bailiff legally can and cannot do. Over the years the public image of the bailiff has evolved into that a financial bogey man – an all-powerful figure ringing the death knell of your financial situation. While bailiffs do hold a lot of power – more so than a debt collector from a debt collection agency at any rate – they are still governed by a strict set of laws. By understanding these laws, and what bailiffs legally can and can’t do, you will find that dealing with bailiffs becomes much, much easier. With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of the top 5 bailiff myths and shone a light on them.
1. Bailiffs can force entry on their first visit
A bailiff does not have the power to kick down your door and enter your property uninvited. They cannot stroll up to your door for the first time and force their way in – that is entirely illegal. Once invited in, a bailiff can force entry the next time they visit your property to collect on your debt. If your back door is unlocked they can legally enter your home however, so make sure to lock your doors and seek expert advice as soon as you’re contacted by a bailiff.
2. Bailiffs can charge unlimited fees
This is completely untrue – the amount bailiffs can charge is all under statute and regulated by law. For each of the three stages of their collection process (compliance, enforcement and sale,) the bailiff can charge a fixed fee, set out by law, and a percentage fee charged on any money to be recovered over £1500. Fees can only be charged once for each of the stages.
3. There is a prison sentence for people who can’t pay their council tax
The British Government does not lock up people who don’t have the means to pay their council tax. People who don’t pay their council tax are summoned to court and undergo a means assessment. If you are found to be wilfully neglecting your repayments, then you may face a prison sentence. If you simply do not have the means to pay the council, that is a different situation entirely.
4. If you don’t pay your council tax your debt goes on your credit file
Council tax arrears do not affect your credit rating. Councils do not share tax details with credit reference agencies. Council arrears and fines do not affect your credit file in any way, shape or form.
5. It takes weeks to get an appointment with a debt counsellor
If you call us today to discuss your financial situation you will have the opportunity to talk to a debt councillor. We will be able to offer you all the advice you need for dealing with bailiffs on the very same phone call. The sooner you seek the independent expert advice you need, the sooner you can start solving your council tax problems. On top of this, we don’t charge for any of the advice we give, nor any of the other services we provide. If you need help with your debts and need to speak to a debt counsellor, make sure you call us on 0300 302 1806 today.