In effect from 6th April, 2014, changes to the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act, 2007, will change the way in which bailiffs can enforce the repayment of debts.

If you are dealing with creditor contact, which may have led to bailiff enforcement, there are some new rules that you should know about. Steven Emerson, director and chairman of the Civil Enforcement Association said examples of aggression in the enforcement industry have been “isolated”, but that “the new regulations should make everything far more professional, giving benefits to not only debtors but to creditors and the enforcement industry”.b

The new laws prevent bailiffs entering homes at night, the use of physical force, and entering homes when only children are present, as well as taking essential household items.

The Citizens Advice chief executive, Gillian Guy, said: “We help with 1,000 bailiff problems a week. People have reported bailiffs giving debt letters to their children and threatening violence. These new rules reflect just how out of control the industry is and are a welcome step towards protecting people in debt.”

The new regulations also:

  • Ban landlords from using bailiffs to seize property for residential rent debts without going to court first
  • Introduce mandatory training and certification for bailiffs
  • Ensure vulnerable people get assistance and that bailiffs are trained to recognise them
  • Introduce clearer rules detailing when a bailiff can enter a property and what goods they can take
  • Bring in restrictions on when bailiffs can sell goods
  • Require bailiffs to tell the court the likely means of entry, goods involved and amount of force required before a warrant is granted to force entry, as well as provide details of how the premises will be left in a secure state afterwards
  • Force bailiffs to give seven days’ notice before taking possessions, unless they have specific permission from a court
  • Introduce fixed fees, ending the ability of bailiffs to add excessive charges to the amount debtors had to pay

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, said: “People will still have to face up to their debts but they will no longer need to fear their home being raided at night, the threat of violence or having their vital household equipment seized. We are stamping out bad practice and making sure bailiffs play by the rules. Those who don’t will be banned.”

If you are concerned about creditor contact or bailiff action, contact Harrington Brooks today, free of charge and we’ll explain all of the options available to your unique circumstances and give you the most suitable advice and information you need.