Anyone who has had the misfortune of dealing with bailiffs as a result of Council Tax arrears will no doubt understand what a distressing ordeal it can be. Many of us at some point or another have been left in the red and have been unable to keep up with council tax payments for one reason or another. It is extremely important to keep up with Council Tax payments but in some cases, non-payment is simply unavoidable.
Before you know it, debts soon mount up and bailiffs are brought in to collect the debt. However, many people are unaware of their legal rights when it comes to dealing with bailiffs. There are many complex laws surrounding bailiffs but there are a few main points that should always be remembered.
1 – You don’t have to let bailiffs into your home. As long as you haven’t allowed entry in the past to collect for the current debt, you don’t have to allow entry to the bailiff, regardless of what they tell you. Nor can they forcibly enter your home. Keep windows and doors locked otherwise they can enter through them legally. Contrary to popular belief, bailiffs cannot get the police, locksmiths or nay other means to help them break in. If police do attend, they are there purely to keep the peace.
2 – If you do allow entry to the bailiff, there are only certain goods that they can take. It is not permitted for them to remove items that are rented or items that belong to someone else. They cannot remove goods that are essential for your employment, business or vocation (although this is quite vague and most bailiffs will have a different idea of what this entails). If you think that goods have been wrongfully taken, you should lodge a formal complaint against your bailiff.
3 – Every bailiff should have certain documentations such as photographic ID and written authorisation from their visit from the council. If they fail to produce either of these, do not allow entry under any circumstances.
4 – To avoid removal of goods, you should contact your bailiff and arrange monthly repayments to cover the amount of the debt. You should make sure that the repayments are a realistic and affordable amount. Failure to keep up with repayments could worsen the situation.
5 – Contact your local council with a proposal for monthly repayments. In some circumstances, councils will take the account back from the bailiff and you can repay them directly.
6 – bailiffs will charge for visits to your home and the amount will be added to your outstanding debt. Try to avoid this by resolving the situation as quickly as possible. By law, creditors must give 14 days warning before a bailiff is assigned to an account. In this time, contact the council and arrange repayments to avoid extra charges. For council tax arrears, bailiffs can charge a maximum of £42.50. If the amount exceeds this, you must dispute it.
There are ways of resolving debt situations other than bowing down to the bullyboy tactics of bailiffs. There are plenty of free resources available to find out more about how to deal with bailiffs.