Bev Budsworth recently appeared on Your Money show on Saturday’s BBC News Channel talking about Bailiffs and what you can do if the Bailiff calls. Bailiffs are now called Enforcement Agents. Below is some useful information about the debts Bailiffs can chase and their powers.
What debts can Bailiffs collect?
- Council tax following obtaining liability order
- Road Traffic Debts
- Business Rates
- Child Support Agency
- Debts in respect of which judgment obtained
What Type of Bailiffs are there?
- Private Bailiffs
- County Court Bailiffs
- High Court Enforcement Officers
- Fines Officers and Civilian Enforcement Officers
- Officers appointed by HMR & C
If Bailiffs come to your home what are your rights?
Can only gain entry “peaceable” means cannot force themselves in but can enter via unlocked door, open window, over fence to go in via back door
However, when collecting unpaid fines – can force their way in but must be reasonable
Also County Court Bailiffs entering commercial property
And Bailiffs collecting income tax or VAT and have permission from the court
If have already gained peaceable entry – can force their way back in to recover goods
Can force their way into other buildings on your property – garage shed or detached garage
Living in a flat – if gained entrance may be able to force way into flat but complex and get advice
- Do not open the door – speak through closed door
- Don’t leave windows open
- Treat them politely and advise them you will sort out debt another way
Times depend on different types of Bailiffs but generally
- Not before 6am and after 9 pm
- On Sundays
- Bank Holidays
- CCC Bailiffs – reasonable hour
- High Court Bailiffs need permission to take goods on Sunday
- Income Tax arrears – can force their way in but only do so during daytime
Moving goods to 3rd party property
As long as correct orders in place can take your possessions from anywhere in England and Wales
Bailiffs can take vehicle wherever it is parked. Should not take car on HP but need to prove it is subject to HP.
Bailiffs need a license from the Security Industry Authority to clamp your car. Ask for proof of SIA registration.
Removing Goods from your property
Generally not an offence to remove your goods from your house or hide them before a Bailiff visit unless coming to collect rent arrears. If you do this really important that you negotiate to pay what you owe.
What happens if the Bailiffs cannot get in
Put a form called statement of means through your letterbox. Fill it in and Bailiffs will return it to court
Cannot claim they have constructively seized goods that can be seen through a window – actually have to get into the premises
Try again – Bailiff should make further visits – not normally more than 3 and shouldn’t if clearly little prospect of being paid
Give up – will usually have several goes but if cannot will refer debt back to creditor that instructed them
Fees for taking goods
High Court cannot charge if no goods seized
If County court have issued warrant of execution have to pay the fee for this whether or not good seized
Council tax – charged for 1st and 2nd visits even if goods not taken
What happens if the Bailiffs get in?
Check to see their authorisation – Bailiffs must be properly authorised if collecting rent, council tax and fines
They can search your home
Bailiffs acting for County Court cannot take protected goods – clothing, bedding, furniture, household equipment or provisions for basic domestic needs.
All Bailiffs cannot take tools of trade used personally in employment, business or vocation
Usually Bailiffs cannot take 3rd party goods, but you will need to prove they are owned by someone else
Cannot take rented goods, assets on finance, fixtures and fittings and childrens belongings
For Income tax no protected goods however, HMRC policy to follow above rules
Bailiffs should only take goods which raise the amount you owe. However, generally personal possessions are unlikely to realise a great deal at auction which is why Bailiffs will generally look to take assets of highest value
Once identified goods – then impound them by taking walking possession – list the goods and ask you to sign the walking possession.
Don’t sign if list has protected goods, if you are not person named on warrant,
Don’t sign walking possession posted through letterbox
If you refuse to sign, the Bailiff can take goods immediately.
If Bailiffs take goods away
Must be stored in a safe place, bailiffs have a duty of care
Who owns the goods?
Once bailiffs have seized the goods they legally no longer belong to you. If they leave them with you – you can continue to use them but cannot damage them, take them away, hide them or sell them.
How to stop Bailiff action
If the Bailiff has made a list of your goods, you can still ask for time to pay. Generally Bailiff will try to get the debt paid as quickly as possible. It is important that you do not agree to pay instalments they you simply cannot afford. If you do and the warrant is suspended and you miss a payment, the creditor will ask the court to “reissue” the warrant. The Bailiff will call again and may take your belongings to sell at auction.
If the Bailiff has called and not been able to get in or if you have agreed to pay in instalments which you cannot afford, contact The Debt Advisor 0800 0851825 and we will help you complete an application for suspension of a warrant and/or variation of an order. The form is N245 is to:
- Make an offer of monthly payments.
- Complete a signed statement of their means.
This is sent to the court that issued the warrant together with a fee of £40. The creditor will be notified and they have 14 days to object and must set out their reasons. If the creditor does not object, a court officer will make an order suspending the warrant on the terms requested.
What happens if the creditor objects
If the creditors objects to the terms of payment, a court officer will
- Determine the date and rate of payment
- Order the warrant to be suspended on those terms.
If the creditor object on other grounds and they require the court bailiff to execute the warrant, the court will fix a date of hearing before the district judge. It is important to attend the hearing and justify why payment be installment should be granted. The creditor will also be invited to attend. After listening to evidence from both parties, the district judge will make an order.
Reconsideration of suspended warrant of execution
Where a warrant of execution is suspended by order of a court officer either party may apply for the order to be reconsidered. The application will be heard before a district judge who will make an appropriate order.
If you have debt issues and would like to speak to an experienced advisor, do call The Debt Advisor today on 0800 0851 825.
The Debt Advisor is a commercial debt solution provider regulated by The Debt Resolution Forum and is regulated by The Financial Conduct Authority no 60669.