Will An IVA Stop Bailiifs?

Yes. An IVA will help you stop action from bailiffs, court action, and being chased by creditors. This action will normally only stop on approval of your IVA, your IVA practitioner can contact the bailiff to confirm that you are entering into an IVA or you can also provide the bailiff with a copy of your IVA proposal to request a hold on any impending action.

Get Proof Who They Are

The first thing to do when a bailiff arrives is to ask for proof of who they are and why they’re visiting. If they say they’re a ‘debt collector’ you can ask them to leave. They don’t have the same powers as bailiffs and they have to go if you ask them to.

If they say they’re a bailiff or enforcement agent, ask them to show you a badge, ID card or ‘enforcement agent certificate’. All registered bailiffs have to carry proof of who they are. They’ll also need to tell you which company they’re from and give you a telephone contact number for the head office.

Tell them to pass the documents through your letterbox or show you at a window. Their proof of identity will show their name and what kind of bailiff they are.

To check their identity you should either:

If they cannot provide evidence of ID and who they are you can tell them to leave. Say you’ll report them to the police if they don’t go. If they won’t leave you should call 999.

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Check If They Can Force Entry

The bailiff could have the right to force entry to your home or business if they’re collecting:

  • unpaid magistrates court fines, for example if you were given a fine for not paying your TV licence
  • tax debts for HM Revenue and Customs, for example if you owe income tax

They’ll need to show you proof of what you owe and a ‘warrant’ or a document called a ‘writ’ from a court. Check any documents are signed and in date and have your correct name and address.

They aren’t allowed to break down your door – they have to use ‘reasonable force’. This means they’ll have to come back with a locksmith who will unlock the door.

It’s very unlikely they’ll do this – you’ll usually still have time to make an offer to sort out the debt.

If You Let The Bailiff Into Your Home

If you decide to let them in and you can’t afford to pay what you owe straight away you’ll normally have to make a ‘controlled goods agreement’. This means you’ll agree to a repayment plan and pay some bailiff fees.

If you don’t make an agreement the bailiffs could remove your things to sell and pay off your debt.

If The Bailiff Isn’t Allowed To Force Entry

If the bailiff is collecting any other kind of debt they aren’t allowed to force entry.

This includes if they’re collecting:

  • council tax arrears
  • credit card or catalogue debts
  • unpaid parking tickets
  • money you owe to energy or phone companies

You have the right to keep them outside and talk through the closed door. Make sure everyone else in your home knows not to let them in.

Ask for a full breakdown of the debt they’re collecting and who the ‘creditor’ is – this is the person or company they say you owe money to. Tell them to pass any documents through the letter-box or under the door.

Check that any documents they give you are still in date and have your correct name and address. If it’s someone else’s debt, say you’ll contact the bailiff’s head office to explain and tell them to leave.

If it’s your debt, tell the bailiff to leave and say you’ll speak to their head office to make arrangements to pay.

The bailiff might say you have to pay them on the doorstep or you have to let them in – you don’t. They aren’t allowed to force their way into your home and they can’t bring a locksmith to help them get in.

They’ll normally leave if you refuse to let them in – but they’ll be back if you don’t arrange to pay your debt. It’s important to do this as quickly as you can, otherwise, the bailiffs can add fees to your debt.

You can complain if the bailiff won’t leave and you think they’re harassing you.

If You've Broken A 'Controlled Goods Agreement'

You might get a letter called a ‘notice of intention to re-enter’ if you’ve broken a ‘controlled goods agreement’. This means the bailiff has the right to enter your home using ‘reasonable force’. They’ll have to use a locksmith to unlock your door – they aren’t allowed to break it down.

There could still be time to renegotiate your controlled goods agreement and stop the bailiffs from visiting – you should act quickly.

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