How Do Bailiffs And Enforcement Officers Recover The Money You Owe?
Bailiffs: Most people's first thought is of large men in suits called 'Mick the Word' & 'Jack the Axe' who are going to break your door down, when in reality they are usually very professional and they usually act on two type of debts:
Consumer Debt - such as debts caused by store cards, or with a bank, i.e.: an unsecured loan or overdraft.
Council Debt - for example non-payment of council tax, this can be collected by bailiffs following a ruling from the magistrates' court.
Can Bailiffs Break My Door Down With A Sledgehammer?
Apart from special cases involving Customs & Excise or the Inland Revenue, a bailiff cannot force entry into a domestic property (a flat or house). What he is entitled to do is to enter through an open window or door, or even jump a fence to see if you've left a door or window unlocked. Be aware if you are running a business things can get sticky. But generally;
They can seize and sell your goods to cover the amount of a debt and costs you owe, this is called 'levying distress'.
They may, initially, contact you by telephone or by letter to give you the opportunity to pay the debt. If you do not respond, or you do not agree to pay the debt, they will visit your premises to seize your goods but will not do so if you pay what is owed. You may be able to arrange to pay the debt by installments. You can discuss this with them.
If they seize your goods, they may take them straightaway or leave them at your premises. If they leave the goods with you, this is called 'walking possession'. This means that unless you keep to the arrangement to pay, they have the right to return to your premises at any time to remove the goods and sell them at public auction. Once they have taken walking possession you cannot dispose of the goods seized until the warrant is withdrawn.
They will try to obtain the best price for your goods if they are selling them at public auction. This price includes the fees that they are entitled to charge, the cost of removing the goods and the cost of selling them.
It is important to remember that auction prices are usually lower than high street prices.
The court may allow the goods seized to be sold privately rather than at public auction. This is called 'private treaty'. You should seek advice to see if this will be possible.