Enforcement officers or bailiffs can be the stuff of nightmares for debtors. But what are they allowed to do and will an IVA stop bailiffs? Rather speak to someone? Call 0800 077 6180.
Included in this article:
- Which debts do bailiffs collect
- Can an IVA stop bailiffs and how quickly
- What bailiffs can and cannot do
Which debts do bailiffs collect
There are a range of debts that bailiffs collect on including council tax, court fines, child support payments, CCJs, Income tax or VAT. Bailiffs should not be confused with debt collectors. A bailiff will only contact you or attend your home if there has been a court process and they have been authorised to act.
A debt collector may threaten to attend your home, but it is unlikely this will happen. If they do, they have no authority to take anything and you do not have to speak with them. If you are in any doubt over who is at your door, contact us for further advice.
It is far less common for banks and credit card companies to apply for bailiffs as a way of collecting your debt. However as a last resort they may do this. You would have been contacted many times from them and given opportunities to pay or set up a payment plan, before this happens.
If you know you have debts that you cannot address, act quickly. If you ignore collection letters and reminders, there is a greater chance of action being taken against you, including the use of bailiffs.
Can an IVA stop bailiffs and how quickly
Once an IVA is in place your creditors are not permitted to take any legal action against you. If bailiffs were appointed, then the IVA would prevent them by law from taking any further action. However, just because an IVA will stop bailiffs doesn’t mean that an IVA is the right solution for you.
There are a range of implications to an IVA that you must consider. Stopping bailiff action should not be the main reason. In addition an IVA cannot be set up quickly, it takes several weeks. There would not be a sudden fix to a bailiff problem.
You could inform bailiffs of your IVA application and request that they put your account on hold. If they don’t agree you can also apply to the court for an Interim Order to stop them, though there is a fee for this.
A visit from bailiffs can be easily avoided if you act as soon as you know you are unable to pay your debts. It takes a long time of you ignoring the problem for it to get to this.
What bailiffs can and cannot do
Before a bailiff can attend your property, they will have to send you a Notice of Enforcement. If you receive one you should first check it is valid. Make sure your name, address and debt owed are shown correctly. Make sure the bailiff is registered and is not just a debt collector. You can check the registered bailiffs online register here.
Usually a bailiff cannot enter your home if your doors are locked, unless you invite them in. They can however gain entry through an unlocked door or garage. They cannot climb walls, fences or in through windows. They cannot force their way past you or enter your home when there is only a child or vulnerable person present.
Once inside bailiffs can seize luxury items such as TV’s, bikes or cars owned by you. They cannot sieze basic household items like a cooker, fridge, furniture etc or items that you need to be able to work or study.
If bailiffs do get involved, they may also charge you fees which will increase your debts further. An IVA will prevent all further action from creditors, but if it is the wrong solution for you, you might only be creating further problems down the line.