Bailiffs and the law

Bailiffs and the law

In April 2014 the law for bailiffs in England & Wales was changed after part 3 of the Tribunals Court Enforcement Act 2007 came into force. Part 3 clarifies the law in regard to a bailiff’s ability to take goods and the fees that they can charge for doing this – Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 and Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014

Generally speaking the introduction of the new regulations have just clarified the way many bailiffs were already operating. However rather than simply being a desired code of conduct bailiffs must now follow these rules and if they do not they are breaking the law. The main clarifications as a result of the new law are as follows.

Changes to terms used by Bailiffs

As part of the new regulations certain charges to terms used regarding bailiffs have been introduced.

Bailiffs will now be known as Enforcement Agents.
A Walking Possession Order will now be known as a Controlled Goods Agreement

The law that Bailiffs must follow

– Bailiffs (Enforcement agents) are not allowed to enter a home when only children are present
– Bailiffs (Enforcement agents) can only visit a home on Monday-Saturday between 6am and 9pm
– Bailiffs (Enforcement agents) can only take household items which are not reasonably required to satisfy the basic domestic needs of the debtor. As such items such as a cooker, microwave, refrigerator or washing machine cannot be taken.
– Bailiffs (Enforcement agents) must give a notice period of seven days to the debtor before they take control of goods.
– Bailiffs (Enforcement agents) are not allowed to sell goods that they have removed from a debtor unless seven days have passed from the date the goods were removed.
– Bailiffs (Enforcement agents) must prove to a court that there are, or are likely to be, debtor’s goods on the premises before being granted the power to use reasonable force to gain entry. Before a warrant is granted, bailiffs must provide the court with information on the likely means of entry, the amount of force required and how the premises will be left in a secure state afterwards.
– Landlords are not allowed to use a Bailiff (Enforcement agent)  to seize property for residential rent arrears without first going to court.

The fees that a Bailiff can charge in relation to the collection of unpaid Council Tax

In terms of the collection of unpaid Council Tax. There is a non-refundable fee of £75 payable to the Enforcement Agent (EA) as soon as the debt is handed over to them following a liability order. The EA must then give seven days’ notice of their intention to attend someone’s home to collect the debt.

If the EA does attend the person’s home, a further fee of £235 becomes payable. This is payable only on the first attendance and only one enforcement fee can be charged no matter how many times the EA visits.

There is a further fee of 7.5% of the portion of the debt value that exceeds £1,500. If the EA makes a list of the debtor’s possessions they must give seven days’ notice of the intention to remove the items.

If, after seven days, the EA does remove the goods, a further fee of £110 is payable plus a further 7.5% of the portion of the debt value that exceeds £1,500.