Frequently asked questions about bailiffs
Q: How can I complain about bailiffs?
A: The local authorities, enforcement authorities and charging authorities should have a clear complaints procedure in place, so if you wish to complain to them about a bailiff, you can do so.
Q: What a bailiff should do before they visit me?
A: Before a bailiff can contact you, they must firstly send you a Notice of Enforcement, at least 7 days before they can visit you. After doing so, they can visit you between the hours of 6am and 9pm on any day of the week, and if you are a business, they can visit at any time during trading hours, unless otherwise authorised by a court. Further costs are then likely to be added to the debt. They should always carry an ID card or badge and have written proof they are working on behalf of a local / enforcement / charging authority.
Q: Can a bailiff gain access to my property?
A: A bailiff can gain entry to a property, so long as they don’t use force, by using any usual means of entry, this can include an unlocked door, gate or attached garage.
You don’t have to let a bailiff into your property. They are not allowed to push past an individual to gain entry or jam their foot in the door to prevent it being shut. For the purpose of collecting debts for civil traffic enforcement, they can’t break down your door or get a locksmith. See also the useful links on this page.
Q: What is a controlled goods agreement?
A: If you do decide to let a bailiff in to your property, they are likely to see what goods you have and then issue you with a controlled goods agreement. They will then effectively have control of those goods, meaning you can’t sell or dispose of them until the debt has been paid. If you have a suitable vehicle they are likely to include that also. If you don’t stick to the terms of the controlled goods agreement, it is important to be aware that the bailiffs do then have a legal right to re-enter, and can use reasonable force, so long as they have notified you of their intention to do so. See also the useful links on this page.
We can help
Traffic Enforcement Consultants have experience of speaking to thousands of people who have been involved with enforcement agents (still commonly referred to as bailiffs). Dealing with bailiffs can be extremely stressful.
For guidance about what bailiffs can and cannot do, customers can refer to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) published document entitled “Taking Control of Goods: National Standards (April 2014)”. Although this document isn’t legally binding, they are intended for use by all bailiffs. See also the useful links on this page.
Most of the local authorities, enforcement authorities and charging authorities involved in civil traffic enforcement use the services of bailiffs, and they are mindful that the Ministry of Justice deem them to be ultimately responsible and accountable for the bailiffs acting on their behalf.