What rights do bailiffs (enforcement agents) have?
If you owe someone money and they make a claim against you in a County Court, the court can issue a County Court Judgement (CCJ), which is an order enforcing repayment of the debt.
If you do not keep up with the repayments set-out in the Judgement, your creditors can apply to the court for a warrant of execution, which means bailiffs can be used to recover monies owed. The cost of the warrant to your creditor will usually be added on to your debt.
You can try to get the warrant suspended by completing a N245 at your local county court, which is your counter-offer of repayment. You can use the charity’s free Debt Analyser tool to calculate how much you are able to offer your creditors each month. There is a £35 fee payable to the court for making the application, although some people on low incomes and benefits may be entitled to fee remission.
Bailiffs, also known as Enforcement Agents, are not allowed to force entry into your home. The only exceptions to this are if you owe money to HMRC, have magistrates’ court fines or have a Stamp Duty liability.
You should be given reasonable notice of any intention to visit.
A Bailiff cannot enter your home:
- if only children or vulnerable people are present
- between 9pm and 6am
- through anything except the door
If you have already let the bailiff into your home, they will usually provide you with a controlled goods agreement in the first instance, which lists the items that they will take during a return visit. There are certain items a bailiff can’t take (see What a bailiff can take) and they must not take items with a total value in excess of the amount you owe. The fees they are levying for carrying out the work must be clear and reasonable.
If you need advice about debt, please call the charity’s debt advice helpline on 0800 043 40 50 to speak to an adviser.