A bailiff is a person who has the legal authority to collect debts on the creditor’s behalf. An enforcement agent is the formal word for a bailiff. Bailiffs might be employed by a private firm or be court officials. They have the power to demand that you pay what you owe, as well as to come to your home and confiscate specific goods (see below) to sell in order to repay the debt. A bailiff can only collect a debt when a legal process has been completed. We took a look at what they are, what they can do and more- here is an article on bailiffs explained.
A bailiff can only collect a debt when a legal process has been completed. Here are a few examples:
Council tax arrears — a Liability Order must be obtained from the magistrate’s court before the local government can authorise bailiffs;
Consumer debts, such as loans or credit cards, utility bills, or private parking tickets, may be the subject of CCJs. The creditor must apply to the court for a warrant of control after receiving a CCJ.
Parking fines — the council will seek an Order for Recovery from the Traffic Enforcement Centre at Northampton County Court.
If you receive a letter from a debt collector threatening to send someone to your house and possibly mentioning solicitors, courts, or bailiffs, the debt is most likely at an earlier stage and they aren’t even close to the bailiff stage.
A debt collector can visit your home, but this is uncommon – most of the time, they are bluffing! A debt collector is not a bailiff and does not have legal authority. You are not required to speak with a debt collector at your residence. They won’t be able to take any of your belongings or your automobile if you do.
If you’re not sure if you’ve been contacted by a bailiff or a debt collector, it’s critical that you contact the National Debtline.
The initial stage in bailiff action is a Notice of Enforcement. A bailiff can’t come to your house unless you mail this. It must include predetermined phrases; here is an example.
If your letter doesn’t look like that, it’s most likely not from a bailiff authorised to collect your debt. If you’re not sure if the letter is correct because it lacks the required wording or some of the information is incorrect, call National Debtline immediately away.
When this letter is sent, a fee of £75 is added to your debt. If they send more letters later, you won’t be charged again; see Fees bailiffs can charge for more information.
Before coming to your house, the bailiff must wait at least 7 clear days after receiving the Notice of Enforcement.
You just have a few minutes to act if you want to stop them. If you wait too long, you will be charged an additional £235 fee when the bailiff arrives at your home.
There are three scenarios in which you should try to act during the next seven days:
1) You believe the debt is incorrect – this could be due to the fact that you are not the appropriate person, that you have previously made payments to the creditor, or that the amount is incorrect. You may be able to “suspend the warrant of control” by petitioning the court.
2) You can pay the debt in whole or in instalments – If you can pay the debt in full now or over the course of a few months, call the bailiff to see if this may be accepted and avoid the additional bailiff fees. Low instalments may be rejected by the bailiff.
3) You are vulnerable – The restrictions are intended to provide additional protection to those who are vulnerable due to their age, physical condition, or other factors.
A bailiff cannot enter your home unless you have already let them in for CCJs (covering all loans, credit cards, overdrafts, mobile bills, parking tickets), unpaid council tax, fixed penalty notices for traffic offences, and so on.
A bailiff can only enter your home in a few circumstances: when they are collecting criminal fines from a magistrates court. (A civil fine for a traffic or parking violation is not the same as a criminal fine.)
They’re collecting tax debts from HMRC, and the court has given them permission to enter.
You should not let a bailiff in if they can’t force entry. The first guideline of dealing with bailiffs is to never open the door to them unless a financial advisor has told you they have a right to enter.
You might wish to tell the bailiff that nothing in the house is yours, that you’ve previously paid the amount, that you’ve asked the council to cancel the debt, or that you’ve offered to pay the bailiff a portion or all of the bill… However, you can only communicate through a letterbox or a chained door. Alternatively, say you’ll call them. Also, if you’re giving them cash, get a receipt!
Don’t be fooled by the bailiff’s claim that they can’t put up a payment plan unless they come inside your home. They may refuse to take the payments you provide if you let them in. If they haven’t been in your home, it will be easy to persuade them to accept a repayment plan.
A payment plan can be set up over the phone or via email.