The word bailiffs can be a little scary, can’t it? The bailiffs arriving at your door is considered a nightmare scenario for many people and when they arrive most people will quickly agree to whatever they say. It sounds like the best course of action, doesn’t it?
But bailiffs do have to follow carefully laid out rules and they might not always be able to enter your home either. As long as you stay calm and aren’t abusive you might actually have a lot more power than you might think when it comes to bailiffs.
Many people think bailiffs can just force themselves into your home and you have no right to refuse but this isn’t always the case. Let’s look at what bailiffs can and can’t do in more detail below and work out exactly what your options are if you ever find them knocking on your door.
Why Are The Bailiffs Visiting You?
The exact powers bailiffs will have when they visit you will all depend on exactly why they have been sent in the first place. If bailiffs have been sent to evict you from your property then you will have limited options and bailiffs will have more power.
If the court orders bailiffs to evict you then your only legal option is to really go along with what they say. Bailiffs aren’t permitted to use abusive language or violence and if you refuse to leave they will likely call the police. So, it is strongly advised that you go along with what they say and let them in.
However, if bailiffs are being sent because of outstanding debts you owe then the situation is a little different. Because bailiffs might not actually be able to enter your home depending on the nature of your debt. If the debts you owe are magistrates court fines or tax debts from HMRC then bailiffs can force entry into your home.
The term force entry sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? But it’s actually a lot more ordered and measured, so don’t panic bailiffs aren’t going to be kicking your door down. With a forced entry bailiffs will contact a locksmith to open your door so they have entry to your property.
This isn’t something bailiffs often like to do even if they do have the right to do it, but it can happen. However, if the debt you owe isn’t a magistrates court fine or outstanding tax to HMRC then bailiffs can’t actually enter your home.
This covers debts like council tax, utility bills, credit cards, parking tickets and much more. Many people often don’t realise this and therefore mistakenly think they have no choice but to let the bailiffs in. But this might not always be the best course of action and as long as you don’t have to legally then it might be best dealing with bailiffs through other means.
If They Can’t Force Entry What Should I Do?
If bailiffs can’t legally force entry into your property that doesn’t mean you should just ignore them and pretend they aren’t there. You should still try to deal and work with then you just have the advantage of knowing you don’t have to legally let them enter your home. But let’s look at what you do after that shall we? And examine how you can get the issue dealt with
If a bailiff can’t enter your home by force there are a variety of different ways you can approach the problem and the bailiffs might even be able to help. Remember to stay calm and try to be polite but firm don’t be bullied or feel pressured into letting bailiffs in if you know they can’t legally force entry into your home.
You should already know bailiffs are due to arrive, they will very rarely turn up out of the blue and if they do make sure you ask to see ID. Any professionally registered bailiff should have some form of ID, which is commonly an ID card. They should also supply you with a telephone number for their head office as well.
If a bailiff can’t provide you with any ID or you suspect they aren’t who they say they are it is best to be cautious and contact the police. While you can open your door to bailiffs and simply stand in front of it to talk to them many people advise simply talking to them through your front door or letterbox instead.
You could also try talking to them over the phone instead. If they can’t force entry into your home then you can tell them to leave and explain you will be contacting their HQ to make arrangements for payment. Ensure your follow up on this though because if a payment plan isn’t agreed upon or the debt isn’t cleared then bailiffs will return.
Bailiffs Are Saying I Need To Let Them In Is This True?
A bailiff might try to bluff their way through by saying you legally have to let them in, but this will only be the case if you are being evicted or owe a debt to HMRC or the magistrate’s court. If your debt doesn’t fall into either of these categories then you don’t legally have to let bailiffs in.
Other Important Areas of Consideration
Finally, let’s look at the other important areas you need to consider. If you are classed as a vulnerable person then bailiffs will have more restrictions on what they can and can’t do. These apply even in cases were bailiffs would normally be able to carry out a forced entry.
If you are disabled, seriously ill, suffer from mental health conditions, are pregnant, have children or can’t understand English well then bailiffs should be notified ASAP. If you fall into any of these categories or are aged below 18 or over 65 then bailiffs will likely not be able to enter your property or at the very least extra care will need to be taken.