If you owe money, one of the ways your creditors might try to get their money back is by using bailiffs. The role of the bailiffs is to take your goods away and sell them to raise money to pay your creditors. Fortunately you do not have to let bailiffs into your home and in most circumstances they are not lawfully allowed to force their way in.
Most of the time bailiffs will send letters informing debtors of their impending visit but it can still be unsettling to find them knocking on your door. In order to avoid this seek help as soon as you receive a bailiff notice, do not ignore them.
Although many of clients experience aggressive behavior from bailiffs there are rules and policies about how bailiffs should behave. They are not allowed to threaten you or pretend to have more legal powers than they really have. They must take special care when dealing with people who are considered vulnerable, for example if you’re elderly, disabled, seriously ill or find it difficult to speak, understand or read English. The National Standards for Enforcement Agents also require bailiffs discovering a vulnerable situation should report the matter back to the creditor. If you find bailiffs breaking any of these rules you may have grounds for a civil case against them and should report it immediately.
Here are some tips for dealing bailiffs:
- Do not open the door to a bailiff under any circumstances. If you feel you need to talk to them do so via a locked and secured door.
- Do not let them in, even if they ask you nicely and say they just want to talk or use the facilities.
- Ensure that all members of the household are aware of the situation and that any children in the house do not open the door to a bailiff. If a child does happen to let the bailiff in, don’t panic as this does not count as peaceful entry. Children are not counted as responsible people for this purpose.
- Be polite and courteous, though you will probably not get the same treatment back.
- Just explain that you will not let them in and eventually they will have to go away.
- Make sure your doors and windows are securely locked.
- Do not get in to a fight with the bailiffs – an assault on a bailiff can amount to a criminal offence.
As intimidating as bailiffs can be one must not forget that they are not usually allowed to force their way in to someone’s home. There are some instances where they can force their way in though most bailiffs choose not to exercise that right. Bailiffs can enter your home without permission if:
- They are collecting unpaid criminal fines imposed by a magistrates court
- The bailiffs have previously gained peaceful entry;
- They are county court bailiffs entering commercial property;
- The bailiffs are collecting income tax or VAT and they have permission from the court.
If you owe money to a bailiff seek advice immediately.