Bailiffs cannot force themselves in and can only gain entry by “peaceable means,” but they can still enter through an open window, unlocked door, or even over the fence to enter via the back door.
First, find out more here: What is a Bailiff?
There are exceptions to when a bailiff can enter your home when:
– The bailiff is chasing up unpaid court fines.
– The bailiff wishes to enter your trade or business premises chasing up unpaid High Court or County Court judgments.
– The bailiff has a court order that permits the use of reasonable force or entering your property with the intention of collecting debts owed to the government.
– The bailiff has a court order that permits the use of reasonable force to get into other premises where it is believed you could have consciously taken your belongings so that they aren’t seized.
In all the situations above, a bailiff is permitted to use reasonable force to enter the premises.
Reasonable force refers to:
- Forcing a gate open
- Forcing a door open by breaking the hinges or lock
- Breaking down a vehicle barrier
- Cutting through a padlock and chain that has been put over a gate, door, or loading bay.
Unreasonable force refers to:
- Climbing over a wall or fence
- Taking up floorboards to access part of your property
- Breaking a window to get in
- Pushing you or anybody else out of the way.
You are not obligated to let a bailiff into your home, even if they claim that you must. If you would like to stop bailiff action, you will need to take steps to deal with the debt that you owe. You can do this by getting in touch with your creditor, leaving your home to talk to the bailiff outside, or speaking to the bailiff through a window or letterbox.
Make sure that all windows and doors are closed and locked at all times since bailiffs are allowed to enter your home via typical means of entry such as an unlocked door. You should also keep your windows closed to feel more secure and protect yourself from the illegal actions of bailiffs.
Make sure that all members of your household don’t forget to keep doors and windows locked and to avoid answering the door until it is somebody they know.
Don’t open the door to a bailiff – if you hear a knock at the door or the doorbell rings, ask who is there before you open the door. If a minor under the age of 16 will be alone in your home, ensure that they remember to inform the bailiff that they are below 16 years and home alone, which will mean that the bailiff must leave.
You may decide to have a relative or friend with you in the house to offer support, especially if you know that the bailiff will come at a certain time.
Don’t let the bailiff in, even if they say that they simply want to talk or ask to use your bathroom. Your belongings may be taken once the bailiffs are in. The bailiff may claim that they have the right to get into your home and take control of your belongings. While this might be technically correct, you still have the right not to allow them inside your home. The only time when a bailiff can enter is when they have the court’s permission to use force, or they enter peaceably and with your permission.
Speak through the letterbox or door. Ask to see the bailiff’s authorization, evidence of the court’s permission to force their way into your home, or proof of identity – they can pass this over to you either under the door or through the letterbox.
Ask the bailiff to leave, keep calm and polite and inform them that you will get in touch with the creditor directly to arrange a debt repayment plan.
If you would like to pay them, offer what you are actually able to afford. If the bailiffs accept, ask to talk to them outside. Go out, close the door behind you and pay them outside. You must never let them into the house to pay, and don’t forget to get a receipt for the payment.
Moving Goods to Third Party Property
As long as the proper orders are in place, they can take your possessions from anywhere in England and Wales.
Bailiffs are allowed to take a vehicle wherever it may be parked. They can’t take a car on HP, but you must first prove that it’s subject to HP.
Bailiffs must have a license from the Security Industry Authority to clamp their vehicles. Ask for proof of SIA registration.
Fees for Taking Goods
If a warrant of execution has been issued by County Court, you are required to pay the fee for this whether or not goods are seized. Council tax is charged for first and second visits even if goods aren’t taken.