This not an attempt to understand the persona of a bailiff because, after all, how many people would really want a job where people are likely to be abusive to you all day long and to treat you as if you are a pariah of society who is possibly even more hated than a taxman or estate agent.
The aim here is to give a basic understanding of the powers of bailiffs even when different types of bailiffs have different powers. However, there are certain rules that apply to all bailiffs.
Basically, the job of a bailiff is to recover, on behalf of the creditor, funds, goods and/or assets that have been proved through the Courts to be owed by a debtor. Additionally the Inland Revenue has powers to do similar; so do landlords for rent arrears.
Bailiffs may take “walking possession” of your assets including your car. This means that your goods have been legally seized and they now belong to the bailiff until such time as you have paid or satisfied the warrant. He will allow your furniture to remain in your home and you can continue to use it provided you make the agreed payments. However, if he takes walking possession of your car it is likely to be wheel-clamped. If you do not keep to the agreement made with the Bailiff, he can remove your goods at any time.
To obtaining walking possession, bailiffs (in most cases) must gain peaceful entry into your property. It is not enough for bailiffs to list items that they have seen through a window and to push a walking possession order through the letterbox for you to sign and return.
You should never sign a walking possession order in these circumstances. However, they are permitted to enter your property via a door or window that you have left open.
If your possessions have to be sold by the bailiff there will be a daily charge for the walking possession order that you must additionally pay. You will also be charged for the bailiff’s costs in removing items from your house. In general, goods recovered by bailiffs will be sold at public auction for around 10% of their original cost so, if you owe £100 on a warrant, bailiffs will probably try to seize goods to the value of at least £1,000. Hence bailiffs will look to take those articles that are usually most valuable and likely to realise a higher price at an auction, most notably electrical goods like hi-fis and televisions.
Bailiffs should only take goods that belong to the person who owes the money this being the person whose name is on the warrant that the bailiff holds. However, any goods in your house are likely to be seized for what bailiffs call “distress” (essentially, council tax and magistrate court fines) or when collecting rent arrears. Either way, it will be up to you to prove someone else’s ownership of any item that he wishes to take. If you cannot then he is likely to assume that it belongs to you. Sometimes this can even be done after the event by producing receipts showing that someone else bought the items.
County Court Bailiffs are also responsible for evictions for landlords, mortgage companies and creditors who have obtained a Possession Order. Here County Court Bailiffs can force entry and will change the locks on the property preventing your further use of it. Certificated Bailiffs collecting unpaid Magistrate Court Fines & Council Tax, and Bailiffs acting on behalf of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs “HMRC” are also able to force entry.
Frequently, debtors will avoid bailiffs, or fail to pay the bailiff, or even frustrate the bailiff’s attempts to gain peaceful entry. In such circumstances a bailiff can seek permission from the judge to force entry or he can return the warrant to the claimant as “unsatisfied”. This can be risky because an unsatisfied warrant returned to the creditor can be as lethal as an unsatisfied Statutory Demand. In both cases it gives the creditor the right to petition for the debtor’s bankruptcy without any further reference to the debtor.
Labels: Bailiffs, Get Out Of Debt, Personal Debt