If you have unpaid debts such as council tax, or even parking fines, you may receive letters warning that bailiffs could be used to collect debts from your home. Dealing with bailiffs can be a difficult and stressful time for both parties; but knowing what to expect is essential to ensure the experience is as stress-free as possible for everyone involved.
What can Bailiffs do?
In most circumstances, you don’t have to open your door to let bailiffs in, and they cannot enter your home by force (except in the case of unpaid criminal fines, income tax or stamp duty). However, if you refuse to let a bailiff in, they can take belongings from outside the home, cars for example, and the ordeal may end up costing you more in the long run. If you do let them in however, you can pay back money, or the bailiffs can take some of your belongings that are of equal value to the total amount owed.
If you are visited by a bailiff, always know your rights. Bailiffs cannot take items that do not belong to you, cannot visit when only children or vulnerable people are in the house, can only enter your home through the door, and cannot enter during the hours of 9pm – 6am.
If you are able to pay the bailiff when they visit, always make sure to ask for a receipt of payment, this is solid proof and will avoid any more hassle in the future.
Bailiffs vs. High Court Enforcement Officers
Although Bailiffs and HCEO’s both collect debt payments, there are some differences that you should be aware of.
High Court Enforcement Officers are obligated to execute any writ they are allocated, and therefore have more power than County Court Bailiffs. If the debt owed is over £600, it can also be transferred to a HCEO, who also visit your home to collect payment and/or take belongings. HCEO’s are, by law, allowed to forcefully enter property, although options are limited if the premises is domestic.
Whether you are visited by a County Court Bailiff or a High Court Enforcement Officer, you should always be civil and helpful. Resorting to violence doesn’t pay debts, and violence will only make the situation and debt worse in the long run. Any HCEO or Bailiff that visits you will act in a calm and professional manner, and forceful entry and repossession of goods is often only used as a last resort when the debt cannot be paid.
If you would like more information regarding HCEO’s, have a look at our blog ‘What is a High Court Enforcement Officer?’
If you require any of High Court Solutions services, such as a HCEO, contact us at High Court Solutions today!