Money Wellness

Will a debt relief order (DRO) stop bailiffs?

Whether a debt relief order (DRO) will stop bailiffs depends on if you’ve already made a payment arrangement with them.

If you haven’t, a DRO will protect you from any bailiff contact connected to the debts included in your DRO. But, if you have an existing payment arrangement, such as a controlled goods agreement, A DRO won’t stop bailiffs.

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What happens during my DRO if I’ve already agreed to pay bailiffs?

If you’ve already agreed a payment arrangement with a bailiff and you stop making those payments, a debt relief order won’t prevent the bailiff coming to your home and taking your property.

You’ll need to carry on making payments even once your DRO is in place. Otherwise, bailiffs can visit your home, take your property and sell it to cover what you owe.

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What should I do if a bailiff turns up at my home during a DRO?

If a bailiff turns up at your home when you have a debt relief order, don’t let them in. Talk to them through a locked door or on the phone.

Ask them what debt their visit relates to. If it’s a debt included in your DRO and you don’t have an existing payment arrangement, tell them you have a DRO and ask them to leave. Then ring their head office to let them know you have a DRO.

If the debt isn’t included in your DRO or you have an existing payment arrangement with them, find out what to do in our guide What should I do if a bailiff comes to my home?

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What debts can creditors try to recover during a debt relief order?

As well as debts where you have an existing payment arrangement with a bailiff, there are a few other types of debt that creditors can try to recover during a debt relief order:

Debts not included in your DRO

If you have debts that aren’t included in your DRO, those creditors will still be able to chase you to pay.

Rent arrears

If your debt relief order includes rent arrears, your landlord can’t demand payment, but they can take action to get you out of their property. If this happens to you, get in touch with Shelter for advice as soon as possible.

Hire purchase debt

If your debt relief order includes hire purchase debt, the creditor can take action to get their goods back. You’re not allowed to carry on making payments. But someone is allowed to make payments on your behalf, if that’s an option. You could even see if the creditor is willing to transfer the agreement into the other person’s name.

Will creditors stop contacting me about the debts included in my DRO?

Creditors with debts included in your debt relief order aren’t allowed to chase you to pay or contact you about your DRO. The only debts you’re allowed to make payments towards during your DRO are rent arrears and those where you have an existing payment arrangement with a bailiff.

If a creditor is asking you to pay a debt included in your DRO, send them a copy of your DRO. If they ring you, tell them the debt is included in your DRO and refuse to discuss it any further.

There are certain situations where creditors can still contact you during your DRO. They’re allowed to contact you:

  • about an existing payment arrangement with a bailiff e.g. a controlled goods agreement
  • to comply with the Consumer Credit Act – they’re legally obliged to send you certain notices
  • to provide account information
  • If they’re a landlord who wants to agree a payment arrangement or take action to repossess your home because you’re behind with your rent
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