Consumers who let their credit card debt go unpaid may find themselves threatened with a visit from a bailiff. When the card issuer takes this step, the debtor should attempt to negotiate with the company.
If the individual cannot repay the debt in full, a set weekly or monthly payment should be proposed. If the card provider does not agree to this, it must obtain a warrant of execution from a court before it can send a bailiff to remove property from the home to use for debt repayment.
If the provider already has the warrant, the debtor can apply to have this suspended. An advice agency or the local Citizens Advice Bureau can advise how to go about this.
Even if bailiffs do arrive at the home, the debtor is not required to let them in, nor are bailiffs permitted to force their way into the home. However, they are permitted to enter a property without permission if they can get peaceful entry, which is access without breaking in such as entering through an unlocked, closed door or through an open window.
Once bailiffs gain entry to the home, they may force entry into other areas of the property. They may then also enter the home forcefully and without permission at a future date. In addition, bailiffs are not initially dissuaded by debtors refusing to let them in. At some time in the future, the bailiffs are likely to return and take goods to sell at auction to repay debt.
Know The Law…They Can’t Just Seize Anything!
A bailiff acting on a County Court Judgment is not permitted to take household goods, bedding, clothing, or furniture. A bailiff acting for VAT, Tax, Council Tax, or Poll Tax may seize books, tools, and equipment including vehicles necessary for personal use in business or employment, while one acting for other debts may not. Debtors should protect their rights by not permitting a bailiff to seize unauthorized property. Bailiffs must always leave a property safe.
Goods owned jointly by the debtor and another individual may be seized. However, a bailiff may not seize items that only belong to someone else. In addition, a bailiff may not seize goods subject to a rental or hire purchase agreement. Goods provided on credit sale are subject to seizure because they belong to the debtor.
In many cases, a walking possession agreement is arranged, whereby the debtor pays a maximum of 45 pence plus VAT daily for temporary use of the items. This provides the debtor with time to renegotiate with the court. If a debtor does not want items to be removed immediately by the bailiff, he or she must sign the walking possession agreement.
If a debtor receives advance notice that a bailiff will be calling, he or she should have a witness present and write down whatever the bailiff says, including the authority that this individual claims to have. To avoid asset repossession, a debtor may be able to make a debt repayment agreement directly with the bailiff. Debtors who find themselves unsuccessful should contact their local CAB, who may have a better result.