The first thing to do is not to panic.
First things first, do not open the door, make sure that all windows and doors are locked and close your curtains – a bailiff is allowed to enter through an unlocked door and make a list of your possessions which can be seen through the window.
If they say that they are a ‘debt collector’ they do not have the same powers as a bailiff and you should tell them to leave.
- If it is a bailiff at your door remember that you have rights and you shouldn’t feel intimidated or bullied.
- Bailiffs are only allowed to visit your property between the hours of 6am and 9pm.
- A bailiff cannot ‘break’ into your home although depending on the debt they may ask a locksmith to attend to enable them to enter. It’s very unlikely that they will do this though and you should still have the opportunity to pay the debt.
Ask them to confirm who they are and why they are visiting you through the door, a window that is too small for them to climb through or via telephone. You should ask to see their ID card, badge or ‘enforcement agent certificate’ – registered bailiffs are required to carry one of these documents by law. You can check their identity by:
- If they say that they are a registered enforcement agent you can check the bailiff register.
- If they say that they are a high court enforcement office you can check the directory.
- If they say that they are a county court bailiff, family court bailiff or a civilian enforcement officer you should contact the court that sent them.
A bailiff must tell you which company they are from and also give you a telephone number for their head office. If they refuse, tell them to leave and if you feel threatened, call 999.
Check whether a bailiff is allowed to force entry.
Remember, even if they are allowed they are not allowed to break down your door – they have to request the services of a locksmith to help them to gain entry – whilst this is happening, call us straight away on 0161 519 5510 for assistance.
The bailiff could have the right to force entry into your home or business if:
- they are collecting unpaid magistrates court fines; an unpaid TV licence fine for example.
- they are collecting HMRC tax debts; outstanding income tax for example.
They will need to provide proof of what you owe and a warrant or a ‘writ’ if it is for court fines. Check any documents for the date and name and address to make sure that they are correct.
As soon as the bailiff advises you that they are requesting the services of a locksmith, call us straight away on 0161 519 5510 and we can offer you advice and assistance.
If you let the bailiff into your home or place of business.
If you do decide to let them in and you do not have the money to pay what you owe straight away you will need to make a ‘controlled goods agreement’. This is usually a payment plan that will also include the bailiff fees. If you do not make an agreement the bailiff could take your goods to be sold to pay off the debt.
When is the bailiff not allowed to force entry?
If the bailiff is collecting any type of debt not mentioned above (magistrates court fines or HMRC debt) then they are not allowed to force entry. The debts below are just some examples of when a bailiff is NOT allowed to force entry.
- Council tax arrears
- Credit card debt
- Catalogue debts
- Unpaid parking tickets
- Outstanding utility bills
- Outstanding phone bills
Remember, you do not have to let them in and any documents that they want to hand to you should be put through the letterbox or under the door. Check any documents for accuracy (Is the debt yours? Is the debt amount correct? Is the address correct? Are you the recipient? Is the date correct? etc). As long as the debt is yours and the documents are in order please ask the bailiffs to leave and advise them that you will be contacting their head office to make arrangements to repay the debt.
- The bailiff may say that you have to let them in – you do not.
- The bailiff may say that you have to pay them on the doorstep – you do not.
- The bailiff may say that they are calling a locksmith – they are not allowed.
The bailiff will normally leave if you do not let them in although if you do not call their head office and arrange a payment plan, they may come back.
As soon as the bailiff leaves your property, if you have not already done so, contact us straight away so we can advise you. Please call us on 0161 519 5510 or complete the form below.