Having bailiffs visit your home can be incredibly stressful and it’s important that you know what to expect and what your rights are. It’s important not to let yourself be bullied during this tense experience. However, if you find yourself being visited by debt collectors and bailiffs, you should not ignore it as you may owe money. In some cases, it may be that you need to sell your house fast in order to pay off the debts you have to avoid any bailiffs or debt collectors getting involved.
Although you should always ensure that any bailiffs that come to your property are working within the scope of what they are legally allowed to do, having bailiffs come to your door may mean that you are facing repossession or that your debts are spiralling out of control.
What Is a Bailiff?
A bailiff, also known as an enforcement agent, is someone employed to collect debts for a private company or local council or government. If you have outstanding unpaid debt you may be visited by a bailiff. It is important to note that a bailiff if different to a High Court Sherriff or High Court Enforcement Officer, who will often have a court order to seize goods for an unpaid debt. When it comes to bailiffs, their legal powers are very different to those of a High Court Enforcement Officer in the UK, who should always be licenced by the High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA).
How Much Warning Will I Get Before Bailiffs Arrive?
Bailiffs are never the first option when it comes to debt collection and repaying money you owe. If you owe money to a company or Council they will try to reach you several times before they send a bailiff. They may call or send letters to inform you of how much you owe. It is always advisable to communicate with whoever you owe money to to try and resolve the problem in a way that suits both parties.
If you do not repay your debts you may receive a letter from a bailiff, called an ‘enforcement notice.’ This will tell you that bailiffs will visit your home to collect the payment. Do not ignore this letter, although it can be very stressful it is important that you co-operate and understand what is going to happen.
How Can I Prevent Bailiffs From Visiting Me?
The best way to prevent a bailiff from visiting you to pay off your debts before you receive a letter from the bailiff. If you have received a notice of enforcement from a bailiff you can still prevent them from visiting you.
If you have received a notice of enforcement it is advisable that you get in contact with the bailiff and arrange to repay any outstanding loans. If you can come to an agreement on how you will repay the money you owe the bailiff will not have to visit. This means you will avoid the stress of having a bailiff at your door and you will not incur any extra charges associated with a bailiff visit. You may also seek to deal with any underlying debt problems as soon as you can which may mean you need to sell your property fast or simply just do everything you can to pay off what you owe.
What Should I Do If a Bailiff Arrives At My Home?
Having a bailiff at your door can be scary, but you should not be bullied and you should know that you still have rights. Furthermore, acting within their legal boundaries, all bailiffs should be professional and courteous and should be able to communicate why they are at your door.
- Bailiffs are only allowed to enter your property between 6am and 9pm
- Lock your doors – a bailiff does not usually have the right to enter through a locked door. Depending on the kind of death that you are, sometimes a bailiff will be able to enter your property by asking a locksmith although this is very unlikely
- Do not let the bailiff into your home – try to sort your debt by keeping them outside and speaking to them over the phone or through the door
- If you are because it is threatened by a bailiff, call 999 and do not let them into your home
- Always ask to see a form of ID so that you know they are truly who they say they are. All registered bailiffs must carry proof of who they are
- Ask them why they are here – they will need to tell you which company they’re from and give you a telephone contact number for the head office
Are There Any Exemptions?
Extra rules apply to what a bailiff can do if you are any of the following:
- Are disabled or seriously ill
- Have mental health problems
- Have children or are pregnant
- Are under 18 or over 65
- Don’t speak or read English well
- Are in a stressful situation like recent bereavement or unemployment
Make sure you read the rules that apply to your situation.
Is a Bailiff and a Debt Collector the Same Thing?
No. Debt collectors and bailiffs are very different to each other and both of them are different to a High Court Enforcement Officer. If someone turns up at your house saying they are a debt collector you can simply tell them to leave. A debt collector does not have the same legal powers as a bailiff and they have to go away if you ask them to.
Can I Call the Police If a Bailiff Comes to My House?
If a bailiff or High Court Enforcement Officer arrives at your door, you may call the police (on 101 if non-urgent or 999 if you feel imminently threatened.) However, the police will not necessarily turn the bailiff or Enforcement Officer away.
One of the first things the police will likely do is they will check the legal paperwork the bailiff or enforcement officer has to check what powers they have. For example, they may or may not have power of entry to your property, but this will need to be properly checked by the police. The police however, will predominantly only attend to prevent a breach of the peace and they will not facilitate the actions of a bailiff or Enforcement Officer.