Bailiffs (sometimes called ‘enforcement agents’) are individuals that work on behalf of your original creditors to collect debt from you.
Unlike debt collectors, bailiffs have some extra legal powers that allow them to sometimes force entry into your home as well as seize goods.
Naturally, a visit from a bailiff can be much more intimidating than a visit from a debt collector but you must know that even bailiffs have to operate by a certain set of rules.
There are goods that bailiffs cannot take and certain things that bailiffs cannot do depending on the type of debt you have.
What are Some Things that Bailiffs Cannot Take?
There is a long list of goods and possessions that bailiffs are not allowed to take.
Firstly, bailiffs are not allowed to take possessions that belong to someone else. This means that they are only allowed to take belongings of the person to whom the debt belongs to.
Thus, a bailiff cannot take any of your possessions for a debt that belongs to your child.
The vice versa is true as well: a bailiff can’t take anything belonging to your children if you’re the one who owes the debt.
Bailiffs are also not allowed to take pets or guide dogs nor are they allowed to take goods that you need for your job or your studies. They also can’t take possessions that you’ve bought with the use of a Hire Purchase (HP) agreement.
Bailiffs also cannot take any appliances or equipment that you need to fulfill your basic domestic needs. This includes things such as tables, chairs, beds, a cooker, microwave, fridge, mobile phone, etc.
Bailiffs are also not allowed to force entry into your home if they’re collecting for certain types of debt, e.g., council tax debt.
What Should I Do if I Receive a Notice of Enforcement from Bailiffs Concerning My Son’s Debt?
If bailiffs are considering paying a visit to your home regarding your son’s debt, you will most likely receive a notice of enforcement from them. Once you receive the notice of enforcement, you typically have 7 days before a bailiff shows up at your door.
You can use this time to contact them and inform them that the debt is your son’s and not yours. Their phone number is likely to be provided in the notice of enforcement. Calling them is a much better idea than sending a letter as it’s much quicker and more convenient.
If the bailiffs understand the fact that the debt does not belong to you then you’re in the clear. However, if they are not swayed, you can tell them that you can send them evidence that the debt isn’t yours. Ask them to put your case on hold while you’re sending them the evidence.
You can send them evidence such as a copy of your bank statement or your council tax bill from the last three months.
What Should I Do if a Bailiff Shows up At My Doorstep Regarding my Son’s Debt?
Always keep in mind that if the debt is not legally yours, a bailiff has virtually no power. They cannot force entry into your home or use a locksmith to get your front door open.
Keep in mind that a bailiff is allowed to enter your home through an unlocked door or window so you should keep all your doors locked and windows locked.
If a bailiff shows up at your door, you can deal with them through a closed door. Firstly, ask them to prove they are who they say they are. Enforcement agents are required to carry a form of ID with them. Ask them to show you this, it will give you their name as well as what kind of a bailiff they are.
Once you know their name and what kind of bailiff they are, you can look them up to ensure they’re a real bailiff.
- If they say they are a certificated enforcement agent, check the certificated bailiffs register.
- If they say they are a county court bailiff, contact the county court to ensure they’re telling the truth.
- If they are a high court enforcement officer, check the directory.
Once you have proof that they are who they say they are, ask them to show proof of what they think you owe. You can also ask to see a warrant known as a ‘writ’ from a court. If the debt is owed by your son, these documents will have his name on them and not yours. Inform the bailiff of this fact.
If the bailiff does not believe you, you can prove yourself to them by showing them any form of ID such as a driving licence.
At this point, most bailiffs will realise that the debt isn’t yours and belongs to someone else. If your son does not live with you, they won’t have any reason to be there and they will leave. If your son lives with you, they still have reason to be there but then these bailiffs can take only the things that belong to your son.
What Should I Do if a Bailiff is Trying to Take Something that Belongs to Me and Not My Son?
If a bailiff enters your home, they will try to take goods in order to make up for the debt he thinks you owe.
Bailiffs take possessions when they enter your home but they don’t usually do this when they enter a home for the first time. The first time, they will only take inventory of the goods you have. If they attempt to put an item into the inventory that belongs to you and not your son, you should intervene and inform them that they don’t have the right to do that.
Remember that bailiffs can take only the goods that belong to the debtor. Thus, if they’re trying to take something that belongs to you even though your son’s the one who owes the debt, this completely goes against FCA guidelines. This is also true if they try to take belongings of someone else such as your wife.
If a bailiff tries to do this, assure them that the possession belongs to you and not to your son. You could prove this by showing them a bill or a credit card receipt for the possession. If they are trying to take a vehicle that belongs to you, you can contact the DVLA to prove that you’re the registered owner.
What Should I Do if Bailiffs Take Something That Belonged to Me and Not my Son?
If bailiffs take something that was your property and not your son’s, you should complain to them within 7 days. They then have 10 days to respond to you.
Bailiffs are not allowed to take someone else’s goods if they don’t owe the debt. When you complain to them, state that they have taken someone else’s property and not the property of the person who owes the debt. You can include proof of this, again, by including a bill or a credit card receipt of the purchase of the item.
If the bailiffs take your belongings and then refuse to give it back even after you’ve provided proof, you could contact the original creditor. This is the person or company for whom they are working for.
If this still does not get you anywhere, I suggest that you seek advice from a professional. You could get advice from an independent charity such as StepChange or Citizens Advice. Use the information provided by their professionals to plan what your next move should be in order to get your belongings back.
In the end, I just have to say that being knowledgeable about the process of debt collection goes a long way in being able to deal with bailiffs effectively.
If you know for a fact that the debt belongs to your son and not you, you could use this information to easily deal with any bailiffs that may wrongfully contact you regarding your son’s debt.
I hope this advice was useful to you and hope you won’t have any trouble dealing with any bailiff who may come knocking.