There seems to be an explosion at the moment in new bailiff companies cropping up and more importantly, cases of serious harassment to members of the public by them. Now although the majority of people have ideas of bailiffs as large bouncer types, turning up on your doorstop at 5am and being allowed to take all your possessions away after kicking the door down, this is simply not true.

Bailiffs, have no right to enforce anything.

Now contrary to what they may tell you, they are not allowed to bully or intimidate you. In my experience on this subject matter 90% of companies that you owe money to will use the ,’…a bailiff has been instructed to knock on your door in 72hrs..’, purely to scare you. However, if bailiffs do actually contact you, below is a list to help you understand your rights and what powers you can use to stop them:

* From October 1998 bailiffs who call at your door must be certified. This means they must have a certificate from a county court allowing them to act as bailiffs. You can complain to the county court about a certificated bailiff.

* If the bailiffs have not been into your home before to collect this debt, they have no right to come in. They cannot break in. You can choose not to let them in.

* Don’t open the door to them as they may try to push past you. If they get inside, they may have the right to enter again and may break in to take your goods. Don’t leave windows open or doors unlocked – bailiffs can legally get through these. A bailiff cannot break in to take goods they have only seen through a window so if you do not let them in they will not be able to take anything from inside your home.

* Some bailiffs may leave you a phone number, and arrange to come round to ‘have a chat’. Don’t let them in, even if they say it’s only to use the toilet or make a phone call.

* Bailiffs will want to get you to sign a walking possession order, which is you effectively giving them permission to walk round your house and start making a list of your possessions.

* If any letters are put through your letterbox for you to sign and send back, don’t. You don’t have to sign and send anything back to them

* Bailiffs must follow the rules, and behave properly when dealing with you. They should not enter your home illegally or charge you large fees that are not allowed under the rules. They should not take goods that do not belong to you, or that are exempt under the rules. If they do not follow the proper procedures you can complain. Write a letter to the bailiff company and to the council that they are acting for. Make sure you include details of your complaint and make a note of relevant dates and events. Keep a copy of your letter. If you don’t hear back from the bailiff company then write again.

* If the police attend your house due to either yourself or the bailiff phoning them, they are not supposed to get involved in any dispute over the debt. They are simply there to keep the peace and ensure that everyone has their rights respected. Sounds great? Well in practice, most front-line police officers are woefully ignorant of the ins and outs of the various laws and rules surrounding bailiffs. This isn’t their fault; these rules and laws are sometimes very arcane and difficult to follow. But this can mean that in practice that a smooth talking bailiff can convince the police to help the bailiff out. This is wrong and you can make a complaint about any police officer who gets caught up like this but it’s still something you need to be aware of.

If you call the police, make sure you speak to them before the bailiff has a chance to, and make it clear to the police that YOU called them, and remind them that they are there only to ensure that there is no breach of the peace and that your rights are respected.

If the bailiff calls the police, then you should, again, make it clear to the police that you know your rights and their powers in this situation and that they are only there to ensure there is no breach of the peace.

Whatever you do, do not allow the police to let the bailiff into your property or let the police talk you into doing so.

I hope this helps to show you that bailiffs do actually employ tactics to achieve their goal,as they simply don’t have the powers they would like you to believe they do!

Author's Bio: 

Andrew Sellar - Manging Director

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