What should I do if a bailiff comes to my home?
If a bailiff turns up at your home, it’s important to know your rights.
To start with, they’re only allowed to visit you between 6am and 9pm.
Try not to let them into your home. If you’re expecting a visit, make sure you keep your doors locked. Bailiffs are allowed to enter through unlocked doors.
Here are the steps you should take if a bailiff turns up at your home.
What's in this guide?Check their IDCheck if they can force entryAfter a bailiff comes into your homeIf a bailiff isn’t allowed to force entry
Check their ID
When a bailiff turns up at your home, you should ask them who they are and why they are there.
If they say they’re a debt collector, tell them to leave. They have to go if you ask them to, as they don’t have the same powers as bailiffs.
All bailiffs have to:
- carry ID
- tell you which company they’re from
- give you a telephone number for their head office
Ask to see their ID but get them to pass it through your letterbox or show you through a window. Their ID will give their name and say what kind of bailiff they are.
You can then check their identity. How you do this depends on the type of bailiff they are. If they’re:
- a certified enforcement agent – check the certified bailiffs register
- a high court enforcement officer – check the directory
- a county court or family court bailiff, or a civilian enforcement officer – contact the court that sent them
If they can’t prove who they are, tell them to leave. If they won’t go, call the police on 999.
Check if they can force entry
A bailiff may have the right to force entry if they’re collecting:
- tax debts for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
- unpaid magistrates’ court fines
Make sure they show you proof of your debt and a warrant or writ from a court. Check the details on this document are correct. It must be signed, in date and show your correct name and address.
These bailiffs can use reasonable force to get into your home. This means they may come back with a locksmith.
After a bailiff comes into your home
If you can’t afford to pay what you owe straight away, the bailiffs will probably make a list of belongings they could sell to pay off your debt. They’ll then ask you to agree to a repayment plan including bailiff fees. If you don’t make the repayments, the bailiffs may come back to take your belongings and sell them to cover the debt.
If a bailiff isn’t allowed to force entry
If a bailiff is collecting a debt other than tax debts for HMRC or unpaid magistrates’ court fines, they can’t force entry. Talk to them through a closed door and make sure everyone you live with knows not to let them in.
Get them to give you a breakdown of the debt they’re collecting. If it’s not your debt, tell the bailiff you will contact their head office to explain why you don’t owe the money and ask them to leave.
If it is your debt, tell the bailiff you’ll contact their head office to arrange payment. You don’t have to pay on the doorstep.