Baillifs – Your Questions Answered

Can I stop bailiffs visiting my home?

There is only one certain way to stop bailiffs visiting your home and that is to pay the money you owe. You should talk to the person or business to which you owe the money as soon as possible to get advice on how to pay your debt. Before bailiffs visit your home you will usually have received warning letters and reminders saying that bailiffs will be used if you don’t pay your debts such as a Council Tax bill, a parking fine, a county court fine or a county court judgment.

Baliff problemsDo I have to open my door to bailiffs?

No you don’t, in most cases, have to open your door or let bailiffs into your home and bailiffs are not usually allowed to force their way into your home by, for example, pushing past you or putting their foot in the door. However, if you don’t let them in or agree to pay them they could charge you more fees on top of the money you owe and they could take things from outside your home to pay off the debt, even your car. If you do let them in but don’t pay them, they could take some of your belongings and sell them to pay the debt and to cover their fees.

Can bailiffs force their way into my home?

Yes they can but usually only as a last resort to collect certain debts such as unpaid criminal fines, Income Tax or Stamp Duty.

Must bailiffs identify themselves?

Yes they must. Before you pay them or let them in to take your things you should ask for proof of their identity such as a badge or ID card. You should also ask to see a detailed breakdown of their charges.

How can I pay a bailiff when they call?

You don’t have to invite them into your home. You can pay them on the doorstep and make sure that you get a receipt. If you cannot pay all the money at once, speak to them as to how you can pay the rest of the money, offering perhaps to make weekly or monthly payments in line with what you can realistically afford. Bailiffs do not have to accept such an offer.

What belongings can bailiffs take?

Bailiffs can take luxury items such as a TV or games console to sell. They cannot take your clothes, a cooker, a fridge or work tools. Neither can they take somebody else’s belongings such as your partner’s car or computer but you will have to prove that those goods do not belong to you.

What do bailiffs charge?

They can charge for coming to your home and for the costs of taking your belongings and selling them. You can complain if you think they are charging too much or are charging for something that they haven’t done.

Can I complain about a Bailiff?

If bailiffs threaten or harass you, if they try to break into your home, if they try to charge you incorrect fees, if they take goods belonging to someone else or if they break any of the rules, you can complain about such behaviour.

Who do I complain to?

Who you need to complain to depends on whether the bailiff is a private bailiff, working for a private company or a county court bailiff or civilian enforcement officer, working directly for the court.

How do I complain about a private bailiff?

Most bailiffs work for private companies, even if they’re collecting money for the council or the government. Some bailiffs are registered as certificated bailiffs, and that will affect how you complain. You search the certificated bailiff register using the bailiff’s name or employer to find out if they’re registered: (

If your bailiff’s name is on that register you can fill in a complaint form to complain about a certificated bailiff. Download form for a Complaint against a certificated bailiff:

How do I complain about a bailiff who does not have a certificate?

Write to the bailiff’s company if you find out they’re not on the certificated bailiff register. If you don’t get a response from the company, write to the organisation you owe the money to such as the council, and keep a copy of your complaint letter.

How do I complain to a trade organisation?

You may also be able to complain to the bailiff’s trade association. First you check the membership lists on the trade associations’ websites: Civil Enforcement Association – member list or High Court Enforcement Officers Association – directory

Complain to the trade association if the bailiff is a member. Follow the complaints procedure on the association’s website.

How do I complain about a county court bailiff or a civilian enforcement officer?

Fill in a court complaint form which you will find at court complaint form. if you’re complaining about a county court bailiff or civilian enforcement.

Post the form to the court. You can find the address at court finder.

Written by Paddy Byrne