bailiff at my home

A Bailiff Has Called At My Home

A bailiff has called at my home and written by John A Waller, Consultant. Reviewed: June 17th, 2024.

Important: Bailiffs can only enter your home between 6 am and 9 pm.

Refusing entry and negotiating through closed doors or phones is best practice.

If a bailiff has called at my home and threatened you, then call 999 for help.

Important: A bailiff can only be appointed by the Court, not directly by a debt collection agency or creditor. A representative of a debt collection agency is NOT a bailiff.

I’ve had a letter or bailiff calling at home regarding a business debt owed.

A bailiff remains an officer of the Court. However, a debt collector’s representative is not a bailiff. So, the role of a bailiff remains to secure goods they can sell to recoup money for unpaid debt.

Bailiffs and a creditor appoint enforcement officers to recover money owed to a person or a limited company. Usually, a creditor will have attempted to collect the debt but instructed a bailiff or enforcement officer without success.

An unpaid County Court Judgement (CCJ) can trigger a bailiff’s visit.

What can a bailiff remove from my home?

Bailiffs can seize assets from your workplace, but not your home (unless it is your workplace), to repay the debt owed. However, if you are a sole trader, business debts remain personal, so bailiffs can call your home and seize assets.

A bailiff has called my home. What action can I take?

If you have received a bailiff visit or had one call your home, be sure not to allow them into your house (unless you are happy for them to take your possessions to sell at auction). However, once they have entered your home for the first time, they can enter on the following visits. Therefore, ensure that all doors and windows remain locked, as they may gain entry legally via open and unlocked doors.

Most bailiffs have no more power to come into your home uninvited than the man across the road. However, a bailiff could only use ‘reasonable force’ to enter your home if they were collecting unpaid criminal fines. Bailiffs collecting all other debts can only come in if they do so without force, referred to as “gaining peaceful entry”, and includes:

  • being invited in by a responsible adult;
  • climbing through an open window;
  • jumping over a fence to get to your back door; 
  • opening an unlocked door to enter.

A bailiff has called at my home – unlawful entry

A bailiff has called at my home. Unlawful entry includes

  • being asked in by a child;
  • breaking windows, doors or locks; 
  • pushing past people to get inside;
  • threatening behaviour.

Even if bailiffs gain entry, they must leave if you ask them to. However, if they refuse, they are breaking the law. So if this happens, get advice. A bailiff can also seize a car parked in the street if they are confident it belongs to you.

If you think a bailiff has called your home, ask an advice agency to send you a letter to show them so they know you are getting expert advice. The letter may say the agency has advised you not to let the bailiffs in. You might feel safer passing the note to the bailiffs through the mailbox rather than opening the door. If you are not in or pretend you aren’t, they may keep coming back until you open up – or the creditor may take other action to make you pay.

What can I do if a bailiff calls at my home and legally gains entry into my house?

If bailiffs get in legally – if you let them in or come in through an open window or door – they usually list your belongings and then ask you to sign a payment agreement, called a ‘Walking Possession Agreement’. Therefore, it allows you to keep your belongings as long as you adhere to the agreement. However, should you fail to adhere to your payment arrangement, the bailiff can return, force entry into your home, and take the items on the list.

They cannot take your essential household goods (such as your washing machine or fridge, clothing, or bedding) or things you use to make a living (such as tools or a computer). They can’t take items belonging to someone else but can generally take items you own jointly. The proceeds of jointly owned goods remain divided between the owners, so only half can pay your debt.

If they got in illegally – if they forced their way in or allowed entry by a child, however, do not sign a Walking Possession Agreement or let them take your possessions. Explain to them that you know your rights, that they have broken the law, and respectfully ask them to leave. Do not be intimidated by them. So. If necessary, call the police. When they’ve gone, make a complaint or consider legal action.

A bailiff has called at my home – Complaining about bailiffs

You can complain about bailiffs (enforcement agents) if they mistreat you or do not obey the rules. Complaints can give you more time, return your belongings, or stop bailiffs from visiting you.

However, complaining will not cancel your original debt but allow you to deal with it in a way that suits you.

What is a director to do when in difficulty?

Once you know your company is experiencing financial difficulty, seek the help of a licensed Insolvency Practitioner. Doing so will stop a bailiff from attending.

You will receive advice on your company’s position and available options. By acting quickly, you can avoid the menace of bailiffs.

Importantly, understand county court bailiffs powers with a ltd company.

If the visit relates to an HMRC debt, contact HMRC immediately.

HMRC offices throughout the UK

How does HBG Advisory assist if you receive a letter or have a bailiff call at your home?

If you are contacted or visited by a bailiff from the Court, it is still not too late to enter into a debt solution, such as an IVA, DMP, bankruptcy, or DRO. So get in touch and see what action remains available.

However, if you are a limited company, you may consider a Creditors Voluntary Liquidation CVL if your business is no longer viable.

We would contact a bailiff on your behalf, advise them that you seek professional advice, and request they cease action until a solution is agreed upon.

Remember: the Court can only appoint a bailiff, not directly, by a debt collection agency or creditor. A representative of a debt collection agency is not a bailiff.

If you’ve been contacted or visited by a bailiff from the Court, it is still not too late to enter into a debt solution such as an IVA, DMP, bankruptcy, or DRO. Contact the team at HBG Advisory and see what measures can improve the situation.

So contact the team at HBG Advisory today for free insolvency advice!

What can bailiffs remove at my business premises?

Creditors appoint bailiffs and enforcement officers to recover money a person or business owes them. A creditor usually has tried to recover the debt without success before instructing a bailiff or enforcement officer to collect the debt on his behalf.

Varying bailiffs exist, so whoever turns up depends on the debt and what they may remove. 

Payment of my Bounce Back Loan and Bailiffs

Is my home at risk with a bounce back loan?

No, as the lender required no personal guarantee.

Powers of bailiffs when they visit?

In the event of business debt, bailiffs can remove goods from your business to be sold at a public auction to recover the amount owed.

Bailiffs will determine what you can afford on your first visit. Notably, they prefer payment rather than removing goods. However, should they not pay, the bailiff will likely list an inventory of the assets suitable to be sold in a public auction.

Assets that the bailiff can easily remove tend to be considered first payments before more significant property items, which can be awkward to remove, are considered.

If you cannot pay immediately, the bailiff secures assets at the business premises awaiting collection. However, you cannot sell or remove assets while waiting for the bailiff to collect them, as they no longer remain the company’s property.

If you cannot repay the debt owed, bailiffs can allow you to pay instalments. You may, however, continue to use your assets, usually to maintain your business. However, if you miss repayments, assets equal to the money owed, including bailiff costs, will be removed.

Can a bailiff force entry into the business premises?

High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs), a type of bailiff, have the power to enter business premises and can force entry on a first-time visit, even if they haven’t a written list of goods.

Usually, bailiffs do not attempt entry, as they prefer dialogue with the director to establish with the director the serious nature they face if unpaid. But if they choose to enter to remove goods, they can.

What can a bailiff remove?

Bailiffs, however, can only remove certain assets from a business as payment.

With a limited company, bailiffs may only remove items belonging to the company. A limited company in law is considered a separate legal entity from an individual, such as a company director. Therefore, bailiffs may not remove directors’ assets unless they act as security. 

From a limited company, a bailiff can remove:

  • Cash;
  • Company vehicles belonging to the company;
  • Machinery;
  • Stock and work in progress;
  • Office equipment.

For sole traders, business debts are the same as personal debts, reflecting the difference between business and personal assets a bailiff can take. Bailiffs can also take things belonging to you personally or jointly owned between you and a partner or another person.

From individuals, a bailiff can remove:

  • Cash or cheques;
  • Cars;
  • Video game consoles;
  • Computers and 
  • work tools worth over £1,350.

What a bailiff cannot remove

HCEOs can remove assets from indebted companies, but there are certain items they may not remove.

Bailiffs may not remove the following from a limited company-

  • Assets leased or on a hire purchase agreement;
  • Property rented;
  • Items not owned by the company (you will require a proof);
  • Those assets essential to the business, such as tools, up to £1,350;
  • Vehicles displaying a disabled badge.

From individuals, bailiffs cannot remove-

  • Items leased or on-hire purchase.
  • Property rented;
  • Personal property of an individual not involved and children’s items.
  • Essential domestic objects, including cookers and laundry machines;
  • Work assets under £1,350.

Stopping bailiffs legally.

If a bailiff turns up, the enforcement agency will have informed you in writing and received numerous chasing letters. Directors must ensure that creditors’ interests remain protected. If your limited company is insolvent, avoid director’s duties allegations. Therefore, the presence of bailiffs finally signifies its insolvency. Thus, contact HBG Advisory immediately for a free initial confidential meeting. The team at HBG Advisory has the knowledge and experience to support you and your limited company in financial hot water. Subject to your company’s situation, it depends on the best option to rescue your limited company.

  • Informal repayment arrangements.

HMRC debt enables you to consider arranging a Time to Pay with HMRC. TTPs are informal payment arrangements that cover tax debt. A TTP with HMRC is open to individuals, partnerships, limited companies, and LLP companies. HMRC will allow a TTP to last up to 12 months. The HBG team has over 22 years of experience negotiating with HMRC for clients.

If your business can be viable, then payment of the company’s many debts in a formal arrangement between creditors and the company, a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), must be considered. A formal CVA stops creditor pressure, enabling the company to repay debts over an agreed reasonable period (usually 60 months). A similar process applies to sole traders and individuals and is called an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA). Partnerships may opt for a voluntary partnership arrangement (PVA).

  • Restructuring the limited company.

Sometimes, repaying the debt in instalments won’t be viable. Administration may be more suitable if multiple parties are exerting high creditor pressure. The process involves a licensed insolvency practitioner taking control of the company while preparing for its sale, while pressure from creditors stops.

  • Formal closure of the company.

Having unmanageable debt in your company may limit your options. Indeed, closure may be best through creditors’ voluntary liquidation (CVL). Such action instantaneously stops creditors’ actions, allowing the insolvent company’s orderly closure. Usually, insolvent liquidations have little money left, as assets are leveraged, leaving no equity for the liquidator to pay the creditors. Therefore, all the debt is written off, including Bounce-Back Loans.

A bailiff has called at my home – Conclusion. 

Bailiffs must adhere to strict guidelines on what they can take when they enter the premises. However, owing money to creditors as a limited company, sole trader, or partnership allows bailiffs to legally remove certain goods and assets. If bailiffs visit your home or business, it is likely to be a sign of deeper problems, so act as soon as possible to avoid increasing them.

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