Here is the list of our most frequently asked questions on bailiffs. If you have a question not answered below, please request a callback so you can ask on of our expert debt advice team directly.

When a bailiff comes knocking, it’s not about what you should do, but what you should NOT do.

  • Do NOT let them in - Bailiffs have no right to enter your home unless they have a court order giving them express permission - which is very rare.
  • Do NOT let them push you around - Bailiffs are known for using intimidation tactics. If you stay calm, stand your ground and don’t give them any information, there’s not a lot they can do
  • Do NOT negotiate with them before speaking to us - Bailiffs will use any and all information you give against you. Make sure you Call Us so we can advise you on how to proceed.
  • Do NOT sign anything! - Any payment plan you negotiate with the bailiffs is likely to not be in your best interests. You will also have to pay bailiff fees, which will increase your debt.
The only thing you should do is contact us immediately for free advice.

Bailiffs  do not have the same powers as police officers. Sheriffs can only enforce court orders or serve legal papers. They cannot make their own decisions or rulings on cases and have serious restrictions on what they can and cannot do. Bailiffs can evict people from their homes, and arrest wages and possessions to cover debts if given the power by a court order.

Debt is generally a civil matter, and if the police are ever involved it should only be to “prevent a Breach of the Peace”, for example, to ensure evictions go smoothly.

Sometimes, bailiffs will threaten you with police action, for example by saying if you don’t pay your debts you could be arrested. This is not the case. Unfortunately, police officers might not be up to date on the law and tend to side with the bailiffs, as they sometimes do work together when appropriate.

In the majority of cases, no, but there are some exceptions. Bailiffs are also generally not allowed to force their way into your property.

According to new government legislation that limits the power of bailiffs, you must be given at least 7 days notice of bailiff visits. This will usually be in the form of an official letter from the bailiff company. If bailiffs arrive but you have not received 7 days notice, then they might not be real bailiffs.

If a bailiff is telling you that they have the right to enter your home, but you are unsure, please call 0141 566 7038 immediately for advice on how to proceed.

However, bailiffs are allowed to “gain peaceful entry”, which means entering your house without breaking in. This could be by climbing through an open window, or using an unlocked door. We recommend to make sure all potential entrances to your house are secured before the bailiffs arrive.

Usually no, but they can in some specific situations. For example, bailiffs working for magistrates court can ‘use reasonable force’ to enter your house if you have unpaid criminal fines in certain circumstances. There are also some situations where bailiffs, with explicit permission from the court, break into commercial properties if they are not attached to any living accommodation.

If a bailiff is threatening to break into your home, but you are unsure if they have the right to do so, please call 0141 566 7038 immediately for advice on how to proceed.

What bailiffs can and can’t take are severely limited by the Taking control of Goods Regulations 2013 and Taking Control of Goods: National Standards 2014.

Generally speaking, bailiffs are not allowed to take anything vital to your job or your day-to-day living.

Items bailiffs cannot take includes:

  • Any item or piece of equipment necessary for your employment, like tools of the trade or work vehicles.
  • Domestic appliances that are essential for your living, for example: your oven, your refrigerator, your washing machine, beds and bedding.
  • Any safety, security or medical equipment, for example: alarm systems, fire safety devices.
  • Any item needed for the care of children under the age of 18, disabled people or OAPs.

Items most likely to be seized by bailiffs are electronic equipment like your television, stereos, games consoles, musical instruments - anything that is not directly required for your basic living.

In reality, however, anything in your house might end up being seized by bailiffs. If you need further advice on this please call 0141 566 7038xx for more information.

Bailiffs are obliged to show you identification upon request. All bailiffs must be certified and should show you their Bailiff’s General Certificate to prove this. If they only show you ID, but not a Bailiff’s General Certificate, they may be practicing illegally.

If you are still not sure, ask which company they represent and call them up for confirmation.

Bailiffs have a dark reputation for a reason - there are countless cases reported to us and others where bailiffs have acted outside the law.

If you believe a bailiff has acted inappropriately or outside the law, do not let them get away with it!

First, issue a complaint to the person or company that the bailiff is working on behalf of, which could be a local court or a private firm.

You can also complain to the Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) - the trade association for bailiffs. The address is:

Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA)
513 Bradford Road
West Yorkshire
WF17 8LL

If you want to complain about a bailiff’s behaviour but you are afraid, or unsure of who to go to, please call us for free advice on 0141 566 7038