Bailiffs are getting ready to comply with new rules on their behaviour which came into effect on 6 April 2014.
The changes put in place new mandatory training and certification requirements for bailiffs and simplify the fees that they are allowed to charge for their services.
They also impose rules on how and when bailiffs can pursue debts, including:
- Stopping bailiffs entering homes when only children are present;
- Banning bailiffs from visiting debtors at night – they are only be allowed to enter between 6am and 9pm;
- Banning landlords from using bailiffs to seize property for residential rent arrears without going to court;
- Preventing bailiffs from taking essential household items, such as a cooker, microwave, refrigerator or washing machine, which are deemed to be reasonably required to satisfy the basic domestic needs of the debtor;
- Ensuring a notice period of seven days is given to the debtor before bailiffs take control of the debtor’s goods;
- Banning bailiffs from selling goods removed from a debtor, unless seven days have passed from the date the goods were removed;
- Making bailiffs responsible for proving to a court that there are, or are likely to be, goods of the debtor on the premises before being granted the power to use reasonable force to gain entry.
Before a warrant is granted, bailiffs must give the court information on the likely means of entry, the amount of force required and how the premises will be left in a secure state afterwards.
There are some very good, reputable bailiffs around, but there is also some bad practice out there that needs to be dealt with. While the new rules are designed to reduce bad practice by a minority of bailiffs, they do not reduce the overall role or powers of the bailiffs to act in respect of persistent debtors.
If you would like assistance in relation to a debt issue, call Andrew Geddes on 01638 661116.