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Changes to the Way Bailiffs Can Enforce Repayment

Authored by Phil Meekin

Phil Meekin

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Approximate read time: 2 minutes

Bailiffs in the UK collect an estimated £4 million in debt per year. On Sunday 6th April 2014, new laws came into force, changing the way bailiffs can enforce debt repayments.

Evidence of aggression

There is evidence of some bailiffs using aggressive tactics and excessive force when collecting debts. With no standardised training across the board, there are different cost structures and charging processes between bailiffs. These laws are designed to offer stricter regulation within the industry and introduce mandatory training and certification.

Karen Dyson from the Citizens Advice Bureau said “They deal with over a thousand inquiries about bailiff problems every week.”

Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling commented on the changes saying; “Aggressive bailiff activity is unacceptable… people will still have to face up to their debts, but they will no longer need to fear visits to their home at night, the threat of violence or having their vital household equipment seized.”

The new bailiff enforcement legislation

As part of the Tribunals, Courts & Enforcement Act 2007 the new legislation surrounding bailiff enforcement has come in to protect people and reduce actions from unregulated bailiffs.

  • Bailiffs cannot enter homes when only children are present.
  • Night visits are no longer allows, with bailiffs only being allowed to enter premises between 6am and 9pm.
  • Household items such as cookers, microwaves or refrigerators can no longer be taken and only luxury items can be repossessed.
  • A bailiff must give seven days’ notice before their impending visit.
  • Bailiffs are banned from selling goods removed from a debtor, unless seven days have passed from the date the goods were removed.
  • It must first be proved to the court that there is, or is likely to be goods of the debtor on the premises before being granted power to use reasonable force. Before Bailiffs are allowed to use force, they must first be granted a warrant by the courts on the likely means of entry and the amount of force required.

New rules for landlords

The new laws will also ban landlords from using bailiffs to seize property for residential debts without first going to court. Bailiffs must inform the court: their likely means of entry to a property, the amount of force required, and goods involved before being granted a warrant. They will have to give seven days’ notice before taking any possessions.

Additionally, fixed fees will be introduced to stop bailiffs adding excessive charges onto the amount owed by debtors.

In summary

From Sunday 6th April 2014, new legislation will put limitations on certain actions bailiffs can take: They can no longer visit your home at night or take essential household items to recover funds. Landlords can no longer use bailiffs to seize property to pay off residential debt without first applying to the courts. Additional fees will now be fixed to prevent bailiffs adding excessive charges. Many of these measures mean to discourage the use of aggressive tactics and provide some standardisation across the industry.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26876432

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