What you can do when a Bailiff Visit
A bailiff (‘enforcement agent’) may visit your home if you do not pay your debts - such as Council Tax bills, parking fines, court fines and county court or family court judgments. This will happen if you ignore letters saying that bailiffs will be used.
Bailiffs must usually give you at least 7 days’ notice of their first visit.
If you think a bailiff might visit you to collect debts, you can stop this by paying the money you owe. Get advice about how to pay your debt from whoever you owe money to as soon as possible.
You usually do not have to open your door to a bailiff or let them in.
Bailiffs cannot enter your home:
- by force, for example by pushing past you
- if only children under 16 or vulnerable people (with disabilities, for example) are present
- between 9pm and 6am
- through anything except the door
If you do not let a bailiff in or agree to pay them:
- they could take things from outside your home, for example your car
- you could end up owing even more money
If you do let a bailiff in but do not pay them, they may take some of your belongings. They could sell the items to pay debts and cover their fees.
Before you let a bailiff in to take your things or pay them, ask to see:
- proof of their identity, such as a badge, ID card or enforcement agent certificate
- which company they’re from
- a telephone contact number
- a detailed breakdown of the amount owed
- Warrant Number
You can ask for proof of a bailiff’s identity and authorisation even if they’ve visited before - for example, ask them to put it through the letterbox or show it at the window.
All bailiffs must have a certificate unless they’re exempt or they’re with someone who does have a certificate.
Paying a Bailiff
- You can pay the bailiff on the doorstep - you do not have to let them into your home.
- Make sure you get a receipt to prove you’ve paid.
- If you cannot pay all the money right away, speak to the bailiff about how you could pay the money back.
- Offer to pay what you can afford in weekly or monthly payments.
- The bailiff does not have to accept your offer.
What Bailiffs can & Can't Take
If you let a bailiff into your home, they may take some of your belongings to sell.
Bailiffs can take luxury items, for example a TV or games console.
They cannot take:
- things you need, such as your clothes, cooker or fridge
- work tools and equipment which together are worth less than £1,350
- someone else’s belongings, such as your partner’s computer
You’ll have to prove that someone else’s goods do not belong to you.
How to Complain About a Bailiff
You can complain about a bailiff if you think they’ve broken the rules, for example if they:
- threaten or harass you
- try to break into your home
- try to charge you incorrect fees
- take goods belonging to someone else
Who you need to complain to depends on whether the bailiff’s a:
- private bailiff who works for a private company - either a certificated enforcement agent or a high court enforcement officer
- county or family court bailiff, or a civilian enforcement officer who works directly for the court
Complain about a Private Bailiff
Most bailiffs work for private companies, even if they’re collecting money for the council or the government. You should first complain to the company the bailiff works for or the people you owe money to. You can also complain to the trade association if the bailiff’s a member. Follow the complaints procedure on the association’s website.
Don't Ignore the Bailiff Action Notice
A bailiff may also visit your home for other reasons, for example to serve court documents or give notices and summons. The foremost step is to contact the claimant and agree to a repayment plan directly or dispute the liability at the appropriate court.