Note about Bailiffs from the Citizens Advice Bureau
I’ve received a letter from a bailiff firm saying that they are going to come and collect an unpaid parking fine. I’ve seen stories in the news about how bailiffs have been treating people badly, and I’m worried that they will come to my house before I can sort out a repayment plan. Is there anything I can do to protect myself?
Citizens Advice Bureaux have helped thousands of people who have fallen foul of bullying bailiffs. We see evidence of bailiffs breaking the rules, so it’s important that you know your rights if a bailiff turns up on your doorstep. At the beginning of April this year, the government introduced new regulations to give people better protection and make bailiffs clean up their act.
The new rules should reign in some bad behaviour by bailiffs. They have to write to you to tell you that they have been told to collect the debt so that you have the chance to arrange payment. Bailiffs are no longer allowed to enter your home between 9pm and 6am, when there are only children under 16 or vulnerable people present, or through an open window.
Vulnerable debtors are also given more protection, as they must now be given an opportunity to get advice and assistance from an organisation like Citizens Advice.
Bailiffs do have the right to charge fees, although there are now set fees that they can charge you at different stages of the process. Your debt could just get bigger if you ignore them. An advisor can help you to check what the bailiff is allowed to take and how much they can charge you in fees.
If a bailiff is behaving badly, you can complain to the bailiff firm or the company you owe the original debt to. You might also be able to complain to an Ombudsman.
If you believe a bailiff has broken the law or you think they should be struck off, you can complain to the police or the County Court. The bailiff’s certification may then be withdrawn or they could be ordered to give you compensation.
If you are in a situation where you are dealing with bailiffs then you should go to your local Citizens Advice Bureau in Market Square, Thame. Citizens Advice can then help explain what your rights are, what a bailiff is and isn’t allowed to do, as well as guiding you through the process of making a complaint, should you need to. For more information visit the Citizens Advice website www.adviceguide.org.uk.
Adviceline: 08444 111 444
03 00 33 00 650 (Mobile)