Bailiffs and You
Bailiffs are used by Local Authorities and commercial landlords as one of the final stages in collecting unpaid taxes or rent owed to them. If you have not paid your Council Tax or Non Domestic Rates, the local authority will obtain a liability order from the Magistrates Court and pass your overdue account to bailiffs for them to recover the arrears.
Bailiffs have a legal right to visit your address with a view to either collect payment from you or to distrain upon you goods that you own. The process of distress or distraint generally applies to the entry, removal or threat to remove goods in order to enforce a debt. You will incur charges for visits made to your address. You have the legal right to refuse access to the bailiff but if you refuse access, your file may be returned to the local authority concerned. They will then apply to the Magistrates Court who will consider your committal to prison for up to 3 months or the authority may look to recover the money through bankruptcy proceedings, charging orders or other actions.
Paying the Bailiff
You can pay the bailiff any overdue amount when he or she calls. In some cases, the matter may be dealt with by telephone, but it will still be necessary to visit your premises in order for a a levy to be carried out on your goods prior to an arrangement to pay the outstanding debt.
If the arrears have already been paid you must show the bailiff the relevant receipts. If there is still some doubt then you must contact the local authority and get them to confirm with the bailiff’s office that full payment has been made.
Payment can be made using a number of different methods including cash, postal order, cheque and debit/credit card. Payments can be made to the bailiff, via the bailiffs office, online or using an automated telephone payment service. In many cases the bailiff will make an arrangement with you to pay the debt.
If you do not pay or you do not keep to an arrangement then your goods are at risk. Bailiffs will also charge you for the visit and removal of goods.
Certain goods are exempt from seizure. These include household equipment and provisions as necessary for satisfying your basic needs and that of your family. If your goods are seized and taken away you will have 5 days in which to either pay or prove conclusively that the goods do not belong to you. If, after 5 days, you have done neither then your goods will go to public auction and sold.
Please also see some Frequently Asked Questions