Debt charity urges consumers to learn rights around bailiffs

Once a bailiff has gained entry by peaceable means, they can return to take your goods and break in if you don’t let them in. 

In the UK today bailiffs are commonly used to collect council tax arrears or to enforce a court judgment. However they are also used to collect parking fines and penalties, tax debt, or child support arrears. 

The Money Advice Trust is inviting consumers and advice agencies to share experiences of dealing with bailiffs who try to blag their way into a property. Some of the most common techniques witnessed by National Debtline, which is run by the Money Advice Trust are:

* "Can I come in to use your toilet?";
* "I’m from the local council, can I come in?";
* "We have a warrant, so you have to let us in."

Joanna Elson OBE, Chief Executive of the Money Advice Trust, said: "The rules and regulations around bailiffs can be quite complicated and so it is not fair to expect your average person in the street to know all the specifics. However there are some rules of thumb that are very useful to be aware of, and one of those is to not let the bailiffs in your property. This means locking doors and windows, and not falling for some of these blags.

"The most important thing is to get some free advice immediately. Organisations like National Debtline and CCCS can talk you through your rights over the phone, even whilst the bailiff is waiting outside."

If you’ve been the victim of "bailiff blagging" then  Money Advice Trust wants you to share your experiences by using the #bailiffblags hash tag on Twitter, or by emailing paul.crayston@moneyadvicetrust.org.

Top five tips for dealing with bailiffs:

* 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;
* By law the police should not force you to allow a bailiff in. Bailiffs will sometimes call the police and ask them to force you to let them in, as many police are unaware of the complex laws and regulations involved;
* Don’t sign anything. If the bailiff leaves papers for you to sign and return, you do not have to do this. You don’t have to sign agreements posted through your door either;
* Except in rent arrears cases, bailiffs cannot take goods which are rented or hired or that belong entirely to someone else. This includes goods on hire purchase agreements.

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One thought on “Debt charity urges consumers to learn rights around bailiffs

  1. Alex

    It is important to remember bailiffs are usually a last resort. While knowing your rights/their rights is necessary it would be much more beneficial to not let a debt collection company get involved in the first place!

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