Bailiffs (sometimes known as “enforcement agents”) visiting your house can be upsetting, but you have rights and should not be harassed.
Bailiffs are only authorized to enter your home between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Allowing a bailiff into your home is never a good idea; it’s always better to try to settle your debt by keeping them outside and conversing with them through the door or on the phone.
Bailiffs are able to enter via unlocked doors, so make sure they’re locked. If your porch has a lockable door, you should also lock it.
Before speaking with a bailiff, make sure you understand the additional restrictions they must follow if you:
- are unable to work or are gravely unwell
- having issues with their mental health
- have children or are expecting a child
- are under the age of 18 or are over the age of 65
don’t have a good command of the English language or the ability to read it are going through a difficult time, such as a recent bereavement or being laid off.
Obtain confirmation of their identity.
When a bailiff appears, the first thing you should do is demand proof of who they are and why they are there.
Tell them to leave if they claim to be a debt collector. They don’t have the same authority as bailiffs, but they must comply with your request.
Ask them to show you a badge, ID card, or ‘enforcement agent certificate’ if you want to be alert and want to stop bailiff action then if they claim to be a bailiff or enforcement agent. All registered bailiffs are required to carry identification. These small identifications and ideas
They’ll also have to inform you of the company they work for and provide you with a phone number for the corporate headquarters.
Tell them to drop the documents in your mailbox or display them to you through a window. Their identification will list their name as well as the type of bailiff they are.
To verify their identification, you can do one of the following:
- If they claim to be a certificated enforcement agent, check the certificated bailiffs registration.
- If they claim to be a high court enforcement officer, look them up in the directory.
- If they claim to be a county court bailiff, family court bailiff, or a civilian enforcement officer, contact the court that sent them.
If they can’t prove who they are, tell them to go. If they don’t go, tell them you’ll call the cops. You should dial 999 if they refuse to leave.
Check to see if the bailiff has the authority to enter the property.
If a bailiff is trying to collect on a debt, they may be able to force entrance into your house or business.
- unpaid judges court fees, such as a fine for not paying your television license.
- tax bills owed to HM Revenue and Customs, such as income tax.
They’ll need to provide you documentation of your debt as well as a ‘warrant’ or a ‘writ’ from the court. Verify that all documents are signed and dated, and that your name and address are correct.
They can’t break down your door; instead, they must use reasonable force.’ This implies they’ll need to return with a locksmith to open the door.
It’s highly improbable that they’ll do so; you’ll almost always have time to make an offer to settle the debt.
If the bailiffs indicate they’re going to get a locksmith to force entrance into your home, it’s better to contact your local Citizens Advice for assistance.
If you let the bailiff into your home, you could face serious consequences.
If you decide to let them in but can’t afford to pay what you owe right away, you’ll almost certainly be required to enter into a ‘controlled goods agreement.’ This entails agreeing to a repayment schedule and paying bailiff fees.
Check out how to construct a bailiff-controlled goods agreement.
If you don’t come to an arrangement, the bailiffs may take your belongings and sell them to pay off your obligation. Find out what happens if bailiffs declare they’re going to sell your possessions.
If the bailiff is not permitted to enter the premises,
Forced entrance is not permitted if the bailiff is collecting any other type of debt.
This includes whether they’re attempting to collect:
- arrears in council taxes
- debts owed on a credit card or through a catalog
- parking tickets that have not been paid
- You owe money to the energy or phone companies.
You have the legal right to keep them outside and communicate with them through the closed door. Make sure everyone else in your house is aware that they should not let them in.
Request a detailed breakdown of the debt they’re trying to collect, as well as the identity of the ‘creditor,’ who is the person or firm they claim you owe money to. Tell them to put any important documents in the letterbox or put them under the door. Any documents they offer you are current and have your accurate name and address on them.
If it’s someone else’s debt, say you’ll call the bailiff’s office and explain the situation before telling them to go. Look into methods to prove it isn’t your debt.
If it’s your debt, tell the bailiff to leave and inform them you’ll call their headquarters to make payment arrangements.
You don’t have to pay the bailiff on the doorstep, and you don’t have to let them in. They are not permitted to force their way into your home, and they are not permitted to bring a locksmith to assist them.
If you’ve violated a ‘controlled goods agreement,’ you could face serious consequences.
If you break a ‘restricted goods agreement,’ you may receive a letter called a ‘notice of intention to re-enter.’ This means that the bailiff has the legal authority to enter your home with reasonable force.’ They won’t be able to smash down your door, so they’ll have to get a locksmith to open it.
You should move fast if you want to renegotiate your controlled goods agreement and prevent the bailiffs from arriving.