Dealing with debt is a life-altering, stressful experience. As you may know, the majority of the households in the United Kingdom are striving to meet their minimum monthly debt payments whilst managing fundamental household bills. Hopefully, you are seeking debt repayment counsel and are in the process of learning how to manage your finances better. However, if a pesky bailiff comes after you, you should know what your rights are.
Not sure what a bailiff is? Well, if a pesky bailiff is chasing you – you will definitely know what bailiffs can do.
First things first, you need to understand what a bailiff is.
What does a bailiff do?
Ultimately, a bailiff is a person who is legally authorised and responsible for recovering debt. These individuals will touch base with you directly. It is imperative to note that bailiffs are not permitted by law to enter your property without your permission or unless they come knocking on your door with a warrant. If the latter situation occurs, they can confiscate the contents of your home or property to raise funds to pay your debt if you are unable to pay it back through other means.
When will a bailiff comes to your home?
Usually, bailiffs do not just simply drop by your home for a cup of tea. (Actually, not a bad idea to offer them one when they do come)
These debt collectors have to inform you of their date of visit at least seven days before. Before it comes to this, you will also most probably get a final notice in the form of court action or threatening the usage of bailiffs before receiving a visit. Most likely, you will receive such information in your post. We recommend do not let your circumstances come to this, but just in case, keep an eye out on your mail!
You probably know that bailiffs do not gather debts such as credit cards, payday loans, or overdrafts unless the lender has filed a case against you and obtained a County Court Judgement.
If you do not receive any prior warning and a bailiff drops by, let him know this fact and ask him to communicate with their advisors on what to do.
What type of debts do bailiffs come for?
Following is a detailed list of what bailiffs come for:
- Court fines
- Parking fines
- Child support
- Commercial rent
- Compensation order
- County court judgements
- Family court judgements
- High court judgement
- National insurance, VAT or income tax
So, what are your rights when a bailiff comes calling?
Bailiffs cannot enter your house in a manner that bears any resemblance to forceful entry. For instance, they cannot climb through windows, jump over a fence or climb over your property walls (if you have any).
You have the right to not be disturbed at night and hence bailiffs cannot enter your house after 9 pm up to 6 am the next day. Also note that if you have a child or a sensitive, elderly person or a sick co-habitant, bailiffs cannot enter then either.
Bailiffs cannot take any equipment or machinery that you require for your studies or work. For instance, they are not allowed to take your books, your laptop and such. You also have the right to retain your personal belongings such as your clothes, your cooker, your fridge, your furniture etc. If you have a family with children – your children’s’ properties remain theirs. A bailiff is not allowed to touch it. Any goods that you are paying for on a hire purchase cannot be seized either. if you own a vehicle that is used for police, ambulance or fire related work, that is not to be taken away either. Also, any means of transport that is parked on private land that does not constitute as your home or your place of work cannot be taken away either.
Now that you know what your rights are, you should also probably know what bailiffs are allowed to take away:
- They can touch any vehicle owned by you and parked at your home, office or on the streets
- Luxury goods such as cars, bikes, televisions, tablets etc can be seized
- Any items that were paid for via personal loans
- Any bonds, stocks, shares, cash, cheques, pawn tickets that are in your name
- Items owned jointly in the home
How does it work if bailiffs take your things?
Bailiffs have to account for each and every item that they will take away from your home. They will take legal control of your items by writing up a list of what they have taken and request you to sign a walking possession agreement. They are also known as controlled goods agreements. Once you sign it, it means the goods are under the bailiff’s control and he can return at any point to pick them up if you fail to meet the minimum, required debt payments. Usually, you should be able to strike up a bargain with the bailiff and reassure him that you will make your monthly payments. However, if you are late or miss a payment, then that will break the agreement.
How can I prepare for a bailiff visit?
Provided that you receive prior notice about the bailiff’s visit, you may want to request a trusted friend or a close family member to be present during the visit. It will boost your morale by having additional emotional support. If you live with people, you may want to let them know that a bailiff visit is expected on the stated date and time.
We advise that you seek debt management alternatives and figure out how to avoid such visits. However, if it comes to this, stay calm and try to maintain peace with your bailiff. He could revert back to your lenders to let him know that you did not cooperate. That could lead to court action in the future with worse consequences. The best thing to do is to get your act together from now and see where you can cut back on your regular expenditure to complete debt payments.