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What are bailiffs rights? What can they seize? Learn all about bailiff debt and how to deal with it.

How To Manage Bailiffs - Help and Guidance

When your financial circumstances have changed and you’ve found yourself in debt, dealing with bailiffs can be a stressful and worrying time. Read on to find out what rights bailiffs have and how Debt Movement can help you.

What Is a Bailiff?

When you have missed multiple debt payments or defaulted with a lender, they will always try to contact you themselves to get payment of the money owed. If they are unsuccessful, they will usually transfer your debt to a debt collector to chase you further. If the debt collection agency is still unable to recover the debt, a bailiff is usually brought in.

If you have been contacted or visited by bailiffs, the likelihood is that you have been struggling with debt for a while. Bailiffs are also known as enforcement agents and do hold more power than creditors and debt collectors.

What Are Bailiffs’ Rights?

If your doors are locked, a bailiff cannot legally enter your home unless you invite them in. However, they can legally gain entry to your property if they find an unlocked back door, garage or shed. In certain circumstances, a bailiff may receive permission from the court to use reasonable force. Although it is quite rare for this to happen, reasonable force allows a bailiff to force a door or gate open, cut through a padlock and chain or break down a vehicle barrier.

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What Can a Bailiff Do?
  • Stay in the house for as long as they require once they have gained entry
  • Seize control of your belongings. The bailiff will list them so you cannot then remove the items. They will return at a later date with a Notice of Intention to Re-enter to take them away. The Notice of Intention must give you at least two days clear notice and be signed by the bailiff
  • Enter your house through a connecting door if they have acquired entry through an unlocked garage or building
  • Force entry into your home if they have a warrant to do so
  • Enter the main entrance to your block of flats by peaceful means (not forceful) if the door to your flat is locked they must then have your permission to enter (if they don’t have a reasonable force warrant)
  • Enter your property if they’ve been invited by a resident over the age of 16
What Can’t a Bailiff Do?
  • Enter your house between 9 pm and 6 am
  • Climb over any walls or fences or get in through any windows
  • Enter the premises where only a child or a vulnerable person is present. This may include a single parent, the elderly, a disabled or seriously ill person
  • Force their way past you if you answer the door to them
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What Can a Bailiff Seize?
  • Luxury items such as TVs, cars, bikes and games consoles
  • Jointly owned items inside the home
  • Goods bought with personal loans
  • Any cash, cheques, bonds, stocks, shares and pawn tickets that belong to you
    A vehicle owned by you and kept at your home, business or public highway
What Can’t a Bailiff Seize?
  • Someone else’s belongings
  • Items you need for work or study such as tools, books or computer equipment up to the value of £1,350 (business rate debt is not covered by this clause)
  • Things you need for basic domestic needs (clothes, cooker, fridge, furniture, etc.)
  • Anything that belongs to a child
  • Goods currently being paid for on hire purchase.
  • Goods which also act as your home such as a houseboat, static caravan, campervan or tent
  • A vehicle used for police, fire or ambulance work.
  • A vehicle parked on private land that is not your home or business
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How Can I Manage Bailiff Debt?

If you are being chased for debt repayment by bailiffs, you must know your rights. Take a look at our Debt Help section about Debt harassment if you feel that you are being treated unfairly by bailiffs.

If the bailiff is acting on behalf of the courts, you can apply to the courts to have the action suspended. This may give you more time to pay but you MUST make an offer of payment. If the bailiff is acting on behalf of the creditor, you can ask them to withdraw the bailiff and reach a repayment agreement.

Debt Movement can help you to understand how to deal with bailiffs and discuss your options when it comes to debt solutions. Our friendly and professional team are here to help you on your journey to financial freedom.