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Bailiff and enforcement agents advice

i England and Wales only

What if the bailiffs turn up? Top ten tips for dealing with bailiffs

The threat of bailiffs is a worrying thought. Our top ten tips on how to deal with bailiffs can help put your mind at ease.

Bailiffs in England & Wales are officially known as ‘enforcement agents’. Many people still call them bailiffs.

Ten tips to help deal with bailiffs

  1. Do not ignore what is happening: If bailiffs are involved, things will only get worse if you ignore it. It is not too late to get in touch with the people you owe and offer a payment you can afford. We can help you with debt advice.
  2. Keep calm and never act aggressively: Getting angry or attacking the bailiff will make things a lot worse. At worst, it could result in you getting arrested.
  3. Keep your doors locked at all times: Make sure everyone in the house – including children – knows not to open the door to someone they do not know. Fit a door chain if you can, these only cost a couple of pounds.
  4. Do not open the door to a bailiff unless you have had advice to: You can speak to them through the letterbox or from an upstairs window. It might be that a debt advisor thinks it is best you let them in. But this is rare. So if in doubt, don't open the door.
  5. Ask to see proof of ID and a copy of the warrant or writ. The bailiff can hold these up to a window or show you through the letterbox. Make a note of their name in case you need to complain.
  6. Keep all paperwork you get from a bailiff. Always get a receipt for any payments you make.
  7. Sign a controlled goods agreement if the bailiff asks you to. If you do not sign it, they might take your goods straight away. If any goods listed are not yours, ask for them to be taken off the list, or write ‘not mine’ next to the item.
  8. If you sign a controlled goods agreement, make sure the payments you are agreeing to make are realistic. If you miss payments because you cannot afford them, the bailiff may take your goods away anyway.
  9. You can hide goods or take them to another location before a bailiff visits. But you cannot hide goods the bailiff has seen before and added to a list of goods to take. That would be breaking the law.
  10. Cars are an easy target for bailiffs. They are hard to hide and easy to sell. If they know you have a car, bailiffs will look hard for it. Park away from your home in a locked garage if you can. But, if the bailiff has already found your car and listed it, hiding it could be a criminal offence.

Bailiffs coming? We can give you debt help

A letter or visit from a bailiff is sign that you need free and impartial debt help. We can give expert budgeting advice to help deal with the bailiff debt and manage your situation.

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Worried about bailiffs?

We're here to help. Use our free online debt advice tool.

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