If you are severely struggling with debts, you may end up having to deal with bailiffs. But what happens when bailiffs get involved? Here at Payday Bad Credit with the various aspects of dealing with bailiffs. Such as receiving a bailiff letter, what action you can take against bailiffs, how the bailiffs should treat you as well as what they can or cant take.
Receiving a bailiff letter
You may receive a bailiff letter (otherwise known as a ‘notice of enforcement’ if you have not settled an outstanding debt. This could be any of the following:
- County court or family court judgements
- Parking fines
- Court fines
- Council tax bill
In this letter, it will detail that bailiffs (otherwise known as ‘enforcement agents’) may come to your home in order to collect the payment of the debt. It is also possible that enforcement agents also charge you additional fees. You may also receive a letter saying that bailiffs will evict you from your property.
What do I do if I receive a bailiff letter?
It is incredibly important to not ignore a bailiff letter if you receive one. One of the first things you should do upon reading the letter is to check that it has all the right information. This is because it is possible for you to file a complaint if it doesn’t, which would give you additional time to settle the debt whilst a new, correct bailiff notice of enforcement is sent to you.
To check the notice of enforcement is valid, you need to see if it has the following:
- The correct amount of debt you are in
- The right name and address
- It should be sent by letter – either by post, email or fax
- It must come from a registered bailiff (you can check on the register here) and not a debt collector – they do not have the same rights as bailiffs
- The letter should state that you have a 7-day window before the bailiffs can come to your property
In addition, if you fall into any of the following categories, you may be given extra time to deal with the bailiff notice, as there are additional regulations bailiffs have to follow under these circumstances:
- If you are under 18
- If you are over 65
- If you are seriously ill or disabled
- If you are unemployed
- If you are dealing with bereavement
- If you are pregnant or have children
- If you can’t speak English, or have a poor understanding of written English
- If you have mental health problems
Dealing with bailiffs
First of all, when it comes to dealing with bailiffs, it is important to note that there are different types of enforcement agents, such as:
- Civilian enforcement officers
- High court enforcement officers
- County court and family court bailiffs
- Certificated enforcement agents
You should also be aware that you do not have to open the door to an enforcement agent and let them in. They also aren’t allowed to:
- Enter the property through any other means but the front door
- Anytime between the hours of 9 pm and 6 am
- If only vulnerable people are on the property
- If only children are inside the property
- By any kind of force
However, if you are dealing with bailiffs and do not let them inside your home (or agree to settle the debt) you should be aware that the enforcement agents could instead take personal belongings outside the property, such as your car.
What happens if I let bailiffs in?
If you do not agree on paying the debt or are unable to do so but let the enforcement agents inside your home, they may take items. These will tend to be items of value that could be sold to pay the outstanding debt, as well as covering their fees. They can take items such as:
- Items of furniture
- Games consoles
- Any other item considered a ‘luxury’
However, enforcement agents do not have the right to take:
- Another person’s belongings who lives on the property (but you need to prove that they do not belong to you)
- Any work tools that combined are worth less than £1,350
- Essential items, such as cookers or fridges
- A phone or a mobile phone
- Any medical equipment needed for a child or an elderly person
- A washing machine
- A table and chairs that is enough for all people in the property
- Enough beds and bedding in the house
- A microwave
- Pets or guide dogs
- A vehicle displaying a valid Blue Badge
- Any items that you are paying on finance, for example, a car
It is important to remember that you have the right to complain (and also get your belongings back) if enforcement agents break the rules and take items they aren’t allowed to take. This complaint has to be made within 7 days of bailiffs taking something that you own.
Checking the bailiffs’ identity
If you are considering letting bailiffs in, it is important for your safety to make sure you thoroughly check their identity beforehand. If someone is claiming they are a bailiff and they aren’t it is a criminal offence.
You should ask to see all of the following:
- What company they are from
- A contact telephone number
- Proof of their identity that confirms they are a bailiff, such as an ID card or a certificate
- The exact amount owed,
If you decide to pay the debt, it is possible to organise the payment on your doorstep with an enforcement agent, without having to let them into your property. If you can only pay some of the money up-front, you should try to explain this to a bailiff and arrange a payment plan (however, the bailiff is not obligated to accept any offer you make). You should only organise a payment plan that you are able to afford. If you do pay the bailiff at your property, you should always make sure that you get a receipt, in order that you can provide proof of payment should you need it at a later date.