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A Closer Look at Bailiffs Powers

by Olufisayo

Bailiffs – the mere mention of the word is enough to strike fear into the hearts of many. These court-appointed officials have the power to seize property, repossess cars, and even evict people from their homes.

They are authorized by law to enforce court orders and collect debts on behalf of creditors, but even with their stern demeanor, there are rules in place to avoid bailiffs from abusing their power. In this brief read, we are going to delve into the world of bailiffs, solely looking at their extent of authority.

Is a Bailiff Allowed to Enter Your Property Without Authorization?

A bailiff is not allowed to enter your property without a warrant unless they are aware you have hidden assets inside. Other rules in regard to this include:

  • They can’t enter your property by force
  • They can’t come to your house between 9 pm and 6 am
  • They are only allowed to use the door to gain entry
  • They can’t enter your property if there’s only a vulnerable person or a child under the age of 16.

However, it is important to note that simply because they can’t enter your house doesn’t mean they cannot use other methods to enforce the debt. For example, they can seize your vehicle if it’s outside your home.

What Assets is a Bailiff Allowed to Seize?

If you are unable to pay the debt, the bailiff will take assets like cars, furniture, TVs, or jewelry. However, they are not allowed to size goods essential to your everyday life. These include:

  • The stove or microwave
  • Beds and bedding
  • Washing machine
  • Dining table and chairs
  • The fridge
  • Care and medical equipment

There are additional restrictions in regard to what they cannot seize. Bailiffs are not allowed to take:

  • Books and materials required to work or study
  • House fixtures such as the bathroom or closets
  • Any items owned by another party like your partner’s laptop. However, you must provide evidence showing the assets do not belong to you.
  • Assistance pets
  • The vehicle you are currently using. However, they can come back for the car when you are no longer using it.

It is important to note that things that you jointly own with another party can be seized. As such, it is imperative to educate yourself about joint liability as it will likely come into the picture in cases of debt collection.

Lastly, when a bailiff comes knocking, ensure they made a 2-day notice and that they are actually there for you.

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

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