Visits from bailiffs and other enforcement officers can be intimidating.
It is especially the case if you don’t know your rights and are oblivious when the officers overstep their authority.
The next discussion should help you understand the duties and responsibilities of bailiffs, when they are used, and your rights.
What is a Bailiff?
A bailiff is an enforcement officer authorised by the court to sell your possessions so as to pay money owed to an individual or organisation. The officer is employed to collect debts such as rent arrears, council tax, non-domestic rates, unpaid criminal fines, parking fines, as well as unsecured creditor debts.
The creditor or organisation gives a written 7-day notice to the debtor before engaging the officer.
You can stop the bailiff action by talking to the creditor, a qualified debt advisor or making the required payment. Once you receive a Notice of Enforcement, it means the officer will visit your home.
Note that bailiffs charge fees, which usually accumulate as soon as they begin acting on behalf of the creditor, which adds to your total debt.
Types of Bailiffs
There are different kinds, depending on the individual or organisation that has engaged his services:
- County court bailiffs: This kind of bailiff help is employed by the county court magistrate to recover money owed. They can serve court documents and are authorised to seize and sell goods to recover the debt. In case of hire purchase agreements, they can supervise the return of the goods to the sellers.
- High court enforcement officers: These are similar to county court bailiffs only that they receive orders from the high court.
- Certified bailiffs: They enforce debts on behalf local authorities. They hold a certificate that allows them to charge levies for road traffic debts, council taxes, rent, and non-domestic rates.
- Non-certified bailiffs: These are only required to recover the money for various debts, but they do not possess a certificate that allows them to charge levies.
What are your Rights when a Bailiff Visits?
- When a bailiff visits your home, you are not obliged to let him into your house. In fact, they are not allowed to enter a home:
- If kids aged less than 16 are present
- By force by pushing past the door
- Between 9 pm and 6 am
Additionally, you can take a few steps to ensure the bailiff does not gain entry to your home:
- Do not open the door to the bailiff: ask him to identify himself if you are unsure
- Ensure all the doors and windows are locked so that the officer does not access your property and seize it
- How to Check the Bailiff’s Identity
- Before you let the bailiff in to seize any goods, you should ask to see:
- The company they are working for
- Proof of their identity using an ID card, enforcement certificate, or badge
- A detailed breakdown of the outstanding debt
- The telephone contact number
- What can the Bailiff Take?
- The bailiff is authorised to take some of your possessions for sale to recover a debt. He can take luxury items like a games console and TV, but he is not allowed to take:
- Necessities like a fridge, cooker, or clothes
- Another individual’s property like a partner’s computer
- Equipment or work tools worth less than £1,350
The discussion should help you understand your rights when dealing with bailiffs. Keep in mind to confirm the bailiff’s certification whether it is the first, second or third visit.