Dealing with bailiffs
Bailiffs - know your rights
If the phone calls and letters don’t work and you completely refuse to cooperate, creditors and debt collectors might attempt stronger actions, such as legal action where they can obtain a CCJ and then instruct bailiffs to recoup the debt.
Having the bailiffs knocking at your door can be a frightening experience. If you are struggling financially with a debt problem, you’ll already be feeling anxious, worried and especially vulnerable.
Bailiffs tap into these emotions to get past your front door to your possessions. You must stay focused and in control, and more importantly you need to know your legal rights when it comes to dealing with bailiffs.
When it comes to dealing with bailiffs there are some misconceptions. We want to make sure you know exactly what bailiffs cannot do and give you the answers to questions like ‘Do I need to let bailiffs into my house?’.
Not in the mood to read? We got you covered. Listen to the rest with the YouTube link at the bottom of the page.
7 things Bailiffs cannot do
We feel like TV programmes and films are partly to blame for the overdramatised misconceptions around bailiffs; with big guys battering doors down taking what they want. So, here’s seven things to keep in your mind that the bailiffs cannot do as per government guidance at www.gov.uk:
1. Forced entry
Bailiffs cannot force entry into your home for example by pushing past you (except with certain debts which we’ll cover later). They can only enter peacefully.
2. Children or vulnerable people
Bailiffs cannot enter a home if only children under 16 are present or only those considered vulnerable people, for example, people with mental health issues or disabilities.
3. Out of hours
Bailiffs cannot visit you between the hours of 9pm - 6am
4. Doors only
Bailiffs cannot enter your home any other way other than through the door (they cannot enter through windows etc).
5. Items for survival
Bailiffs cannot take items that you need for general survival (cooker, clothes, washing machine, fridge and freezer).
6. Work stuff
Bailiffs cannot take items you need for work such as work tools and equipment which in total are worth less than £1,350
7. Only your belongings
Bailiffs cannot take items that do not belong to you e.g., items that belong to your partner. You may be asked to prove that the item does not belong to you.
Do I need to let a Bailiff in?
You’ll notice the first point we made was specifically about bailiffs making a forced entry. But do you have to let them in at all? Well, there is no law that states you must let a bailiff into your home. However, if you do let them in and you do not pay them, they are legally allowed to take your belongings to sell to cover your debt, and their fees.
You might be thinking, great I simply won’t let them in! However, it's important that you know the following. If you decide not to let the bailiffs into your home, they may take possessions that belong to you outside of your home, your car for example. If there are no items for them to take at all, there is a risk they may add further costs to your debt.
Finally, if bailiffs are unsuccessful and fail to recover any money, they may return the debt back to the creditor. You should never feel intimidated, as we mentioned before:
There is no law that states you must let a bailiff into your home.
The Real Debt Guy
How do I know if a Bailiff is legitimate?
It’s unfortunate but there are people out there who ‘fake it’ as bailiffs. You definitely do not want these people inside your home. If a bailiff is at your door and you choose to engage with them, please make sure you follow these four steps for your safety and protection.
Ask the bailiffs to present proof of their identity via an ID card, enforcement agent certificate or badge. You do not need to let them into your house to view this. Ask them to post it through the letterbox or show it at the window.
Ask for their company name, then look up the company and call them (if necessary).
You can check a bailiffs identity using one of these links depending on the type of bailiff they are:
Ask for a detailed breakdown of what is owed and check it thoroughly.
If you suspect that someone is pretending to be a bailiff, definitely do not let them into your house, it is a criminal offence and you should report the person to the police immediately.
When can a bailiff force entry?
If you have outstanding debts to be paid, bailiffs cannot force entry into your home, unless the debts are to collect Income Tax, Stamp Duty and criminal fines. However, this is rare and only ever used as a very last resort. TV really does have a lot to answer for!
Remember…. There is no law that states that you must let a bailiff into your home, so bear that in mind.
Don't forget to read The Real Debt Guy's final thoughts below!
The information in this article is considered to be true and correct at the date of publication.