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Be Aware of Bailiffs.

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What are our rights regarding bailiffs?

This new page examines what to do and what rights exist to protect us when bailiffs knock on the door. With fines and debts worth millions of pounds going unpaid every year, bailiffs are very busy. If you are having problems paying a fine, contact the court or relevant organisation and try to negotiate with them. If they don't know your situation, they could assume that you have no intention of paying. Once it reaches this stage, the debt could be passed to a debt collection agency or a warrant might be issued by a court which authorises a firm of bailiffs to try to recover the debt from you.

Paying a bailiff

Debt is a fact of life for many people these days, but if you follow some golden rules you can avoid getting into trouble

Bailiffs recover money that people owe to their clients. They will ask for a secure method of payment - cash, debit or credit card. If you pay by card, you will also have to pay a handling fee.
If a bailiff visits your home, you will have to pay a fee. Fees are set at different rates according to the type of debt and court.
Bailiffs, generally, do not have the right to force entry into your home. They must gain "peaceful entry" by you letting them in, by coming in through a closed but unlocked door or open window, or by you having let them in before.
If you cannot pay, bailiffs are only entitled to take your belongings if they have the appropriate written authority, such as a warrant issued by a court or creditor. However, this still does not guarantee entry to your home and they should leave basic household items such as beds, clothing and items of equipment needed for your job.

Seeking advice

If bailiffs take your belongings, the company you owe money to can sell your goods at auction, perhaps for only a fraction of their value. More fees will be charged for removing, storing and selling your belongings.
The law on bailiffs is very complicated and rules depend on what the debt is and who you owe it to. At most stages of the debt recovery process, there are opportunities to negotiate.

Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice relating to your specific circumstances. See our Links page on the left.

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