In the UK, a bailiff is authorized to recover debts. If consumers do not pay debts like parking or court fines, county court judgments, or Council Tax bills, a bailiff may visit their homes. In most cases, offering to pay some of the money owed will prevent future visits from bailiffs.
However, even if a debtor offers to make payments, the bailiff may return to request more money. This can make an already uncomfortable situation much more difficult to handle.
A bailiff can usually only come into a home if invited or if a door or window is left open. A bailiff may only force his or her way into the home as a last resort to collect VAT, income tax, or unpaid criminal fines. Before letting bailiffs into their home or offering to pay them for debts, consumers should ask for a copy of the court order stating that money is owed and a copy of the written authorization for the bailiffs to take the personal belongings of the debtor.
Consumers may pay bailiffs some or all of the money owed without inviting the bailiffs into the home. A receipt should be obtained as proof of payment. If debtors are unable to repay the debts immediately, they should discuss repayments with the bailiffs or inform them that the money will be repaid directly to the creditors. If a consumer does not offer to pay debts when approached by a bailiff, the individual could be taken to court.
When a bailiff is allowed into the home, he or she is permitted to take some belongings and sell these to repay debts and cover bailiff fees. Bailiffs may take things from within and outside of the home, including garden equipment and automobiles. However, they may not take items that are needed for daily living like furniture, work equipment, cooking supplies, and clothing.
A bailiff may charge for visits and for entering the home and taking belongings. These charges will be added to the debt. If consumers believe the charges are too high or represent services not performed, they should challenge the bailiffs and file a complaint with the private company employing the individual, a relevant trade association, or the HM Courts & Tribunals Service, depending upon who sent the individual.
If a consumer is already making payments to a bailiff and the bailiff requests more money, taking the bailiff to court will not prove successful. Repayments are typically based on disposable income and bailiffs usually represent creditors. Therefore, the council is most likely the party that requested an increase in repayment amount and the bailiff is just following orders.
Consumers should contact the council or their bailiffs to find out why higher repayments are being requested. If a consumer cannot afford the increased amount, this should be proven by providing a financial statement evidencing such.
Treading lightly is the best approach or the repayments may be increased even further, especially for tax debts. The Citizens Advice Bureau can provide additional advice about handling bailiffs.