A bailiff has called at my home
A bailiff has called at my home. Written by John A Waller, Director. Reviewed June 6th, 2022.
I’ve had a letter or bailiff calling at my home regarding business debt owed.
A bailiff is an official of the court. However, a representative of a debt collector is not a bailiff. So the role of a bailiff is 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 without success, resulting in instructing a bailiff or enforcement officer.
What can a bailiff remove from my home?
Bailiffs have the power to 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 seize assets from your home.
A bailiff has called at my home – What action can I take?
If you have received a bailiff visit or had one calling at 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 are permitted to enter on the following visits. Ensure therefore, all doors and windows remain locked, as they may gain entry legally via open windows and unlocked doors.
Most bailiffs have no more power to come into your home uninvited than the man who lives across the road. However, the only time a bailiff could use ‘reasonable force’ to get into your home would be 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 then enter.
A bailiff has called at my home – Bailiff unlawful entry
So, a bailiff has called at your home. Unlawful entry however would include:
- being asked in by a child;
- breaking windows, doors or locks;
- pushing past people to get inside.
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 is also allowed to seize a car parked in the street, as long as they are confident it belongs to you.
If you think bailiffs will be coming, 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 has legally gained entry into my home?
If bailiffs get in legally – if you, however, let them in or came in through an open window or door – they usually make a list of 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 were let in 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.
What is a director to do when in difficulty?
Once you know your company is in financial difficulty, seek the help of a licensed Insolovency Practitioner.
You will receive advice on dealing with your company’s position and the options available. By acting quickly, you can avoid the menace of bailiffs.
Importantly, understand bailiffs powers with a ltd company.
How HBG Advisory assists if you receive a letter or have a bailiff call at your home?
If 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 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.
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.
So contact the team at HBG Advisory today for free insolvency advice!
Free advice from approachable team of advisors.