Changes to the Tribunals, Courts & Enforcement Act 2007 introduced on April 6th aim to ensure bailiffs are not able to treat debtors unfairly, such as by removing essential goods from their homes.
Under a commitment set out in the Coalition Agreement, the government has altered the rules on bailiffs, in an effort to eliminate aggressive behaviour and intimidation.
The new rules also put in place fixed fees for bailiff activity, so the amounts charged to debtors cannot become punitively high without good reason.
Under the new protection, bailiffs may not:
- Enter homes where only children are present;
- Visit debtors’ homes at night (outside of 6am-9pm);
- Seize property for residential rent debts without court action;
- Act without proper training and certification.
The legislation also introduces rules and guidance on:
- Dealing with vulnerable debtors;
- When a property may be entered and what goods may be taken;
- When seized goods may be sold;
- Liaising with the court on the means of entry, goods involved, force required, and how the premises will be left secure on departure.
All of this aims to protect the most vulnerable of debtors from intimidation and aggression, as well as ensuring households are left with their cooker, refrigerator, washing machine and microwave when bailiffs leave.
Justice secretary Chris Grayling said: “We are stamping out bad practice and making sure bailiffs play by the rules. Those who don’t will be banned.
“Aggressive bailiff activity is unacceptable and it is high time that the cowboys out there are stopped from giving the rest of this important industry a bad name.
“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.”