There is little more stress than expecting bailiffs to visit your property. However, you can come some of those nerves if you already know the powers of bailiffs limiting them on what they are allowed to do or not. This is a guide to provide you with what you can expect from a visit from a bailiff.
What is the work of bailiffs?
Bailiffs are only allowed access to your property when the person inside the house allows them to enter the premises. Otherwise, if the bailiff finds no one at the property, they can only leave a card saying they had visited the premises. This card also contains a phone number to allow the property owner to contact them and discuss the issue.
Nonetheless, they are allowed to enter the house through an open door if they had been allowed access in a previous visit, and they have to come back to your home to pick goods needed to be sold to cover the outstanding debt.
One of the primary roles of a bailiff is visiting your home and presenting all the available debt payments plans. If you cannot clear your debts on time, the bailiffs are allowed to prepare an inventory of the saleable goods in the house while at the same time giving you a Controlled Goods Agreement (CGA) to sign. We will provide more details on this topic.
As captured in the inventory of the saleable goods, these goods will continue staying in the property while you meet the required debt obligations; they are only seized and sold if the debt repayment agreement is breached.
However, plenty of organizations can help you in case you cannot pay the debt. They include StepChange or Money Advice Service. If you are looking for such financial support, please read through our guide to know where you can get the independent support you need.
Are bailiffs allowed to force entry into a property?
Bailiff can only enter your property if they are granted permission to enter by a person inside the premises. If there is nobody in the house at the visit, they can try to access the property through an unlocked door. However, it is a rare incident.
However, bailiffs are allowed to force entry into a property when they must collect goods that need to be sold to repay the debt. In the event, the borrower has broken the terms of the Controlled Goods Agreement (CGA) through failure to pay the agreed installments for debt repayment.
What are bailiffs allowed to take?
When a bailiff comes to your premises, the main objective is to talk to you and come into an arrangement on how you will pay the debt, either in full or specific installments. Bailiffs are limited on the number of payment plans they can provide. Therefore, a bailiff may connect you to someone at Lowell or another of our trained solicitors to help reach an agreement on the payment terms and conditions.
Once you have agreed on specific terms with the bailiff, preparing a Controlled Good Agreement (CGA) may be essential. This document captures the saleable goods in the property – goods that qualify under the court’s control. These saleable goods will remain within your home as long as you make the required payments. If the terms of the CGA are broken, the bailiff can visit again to collect the goods; these goods are then sold in an auction to retire the outstanding loan.
Bailiffs are only allowed to collect the goods owned by the borrower or jointly own with another party. For instance, the bailiff is not allowed to cart away legally and wholly belonging to your partner or another person living on the premises. Additionally, they cannot take away any protected goods or commercial tools used for income-earning. You must avail the evidence to protect such goods from possession.
The bailiff can only take goods with a market value, i.e., goods that can be sold in a free market to earn enough money to pay off the outstanding debt. They are not allowed to carry any goods that cannot raise enough funds in an auction to pay the debt and meet the cost of the transport, storage, and auction fees.
You are welcome to read further advice on this at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or read the Government of UK’s guide on a bailiff’s powers and responsibilities.