Can enforcement agents (bailiffs) force entry into my home?

Can enforcement agents (bailiffs) force entry into my home?

Enforcement agents (EAs) have more powers than standard debt collectors. They can legally enter a home through any open or unlocked door. They can visit households between the hours of 6:00 am and 9:00 pm or, in the case of a business, at any time during trading hours. This can be on any day of the week, although agents will take account of certain public holidays and religious days, where this is reasonable.

You will be given at least seven days’ notice and an opportunity to resolve your debt before an enforcement agent visits.

EAs will only enter premises as part of the enforcement process and can only use a usual means of entry (not windows or fire escapes etc.). They cannot under normal circumstances force their way into a property.

The exception to this is when they are enforcing a magistrate’s court fine. In these situations, where the matter is more serious, they are granted the right to use a locksmith to gain access to your home and the costs of gaining entry will be added to your debt.

It is important to be aware that you are not under any legal obligation to allow a bailiff into your home. However, you are required by law to pay your debt. The best way to avoid additional fees and resolve your debt quickly is to speak to the agent. The sooner you do this the more an enforcement agent can assist you to repay your debt.

EAs are not debt collectors, they are instructed by the courts and work on behalf of local authorities. It is important to remember that enforcement is the final stage of debt collection, in which the court has already issued a warrant or court order instructing a certificated enforcement agent to take control of goods in lieu of payment.

Around half of all debt is paid at the Compliance Stage without an agent needing to visit at all. The key to sorting out any debt problems remains talking. Enforcement agents are trained to listen and help you find a way to pay what you owe.

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