What you can do when a Bailiff Visits
A bailiff (‘enforcement agent’) may visit your home if you do not pay your debts - such as Council Tax bills, parking fines, court fines and county court or family court judgements.
This will happen if you ignore letters saying that bailiffs will be used.
You might be arrested if you do not pay criminal debts, such as fines or penalty notices.
A bailiff may also visit your home for other reasons, for example to serve court documents or give notices and summons.
There are different kinds of bailiffs, known as:
‘certificated enforcement agents’
‘high court enforcement officers’
‘county court and family court bailiffs’
‘civilian enforcement officers’
Bailiffs must usually give you at least seven days’ notice of their first visit.
Pay What you Owe Before a Bailiff Visits
If you think a bailiff might visit you to collect debts, you can stop this by paying the money you owe. Get advice about how to pay your debt from whomever you owe money to as soon as possible.
Dealing with Bailiffs
You usually do not have to open your door to a bailiff or let them in.
Bailiffs cannot enter your home:
by force, for example by pushing past you
if only children under 16 or vulnerable people (with disabilities, for example) are present
between 9:00pm and 6:00am
through anything except the door
Bailiffs are allowed to force their way into your home to collect unpaid criminal fines, Income Tax or Stamp Duty, but only as a last resort.
If you do not let a bailiff in or agree to pay them:
they could take things from outside your home, for example your car
you could end up owing even more money
Check the Bailiff’s Identity
Before you let a bailiff in to take your things or pay them, ask to see:
proof of their identity, such as a badge, ID card or enforcement agent certificate
which company they are from
a telephone contact number
a detailed breakdown of the amount owed
You can ask for proof of a bailiff’s identity and authorisation even if they have visited before - for example, ask them to put it through the letterbox or show it at the window.
To check a bailiff’s identity, find out what kind of bailiff they are from their proof of identity and then:
check the register of certificated bailiffs (external link) if they say they are a certificated enforcement agent (contact the county court business centre (external link)if you have a question)
check the list (external link) if they say they are a high court enforcement officer
contact the court that sent them (external link) if they say they are a county court bailiff, family court bailiff or a civilian enforcement officer
Paying a bailiff
You can pay the bailiff on the doorstep - you do not have to let them into your home.
Make sure you get a receipt to prove you have paid.
Offer to pay what you can afford in weekly or monthly payments.
The bailiff does not have to accept your offer.
What Bailiffs Can and Cannot Take
If you let a bailiff into your home, they may take some of your belongings to sell.
Bailiffs can take luxury items, for example a TV or games console.
things you need, such as your clothes, cooker or fridge
work tools and equipment which together are worth less than £1,350
someone else’s belongings, such as your partner’s computer
You will have to prove that someone else’s goods do not belong to you.
What Bailiffs can Charge
How much you pay depends on your situation.
Help or Advice
You can get free help or advice on dealing with bailiffs from: