Vulnerable people will be protected from aggressive bailiffs but businesses will still be able to collect debts fairly under new laws to clean up the industry announced today by Justice Minister Helen Grant.
Bailiffs will be banned from entering homes at night or when only children are present and new safeguards will prevent them from using force against people who owe money. They will also no longer have free reign to fix their own fees, as new set costs are brought in.
Until now there has been insufficient legal protection against aggressive bailiffs but that will change with the new laws and a mandatory training and certification scheme which they must pass before going into business. Bailiffs who do not follow the rules will be barred from the industry.
Justice Minister Helen Grant said:
‘For too long bailiffs have gone unregulated, allowing a small minority to give the industry a bad name. Too many people in debt have had the additional stress of dealing with aggressive bailiffs who often charge extortionate fees.
‘These new laws will clean up the industry and ensure bailiffs play by the rules or face being prevented from practising. They will also make sure businesses and public bodies can collect their debts fairly.’
The Government is taking action following a consultation last year on aggressive bailiffs. It announced today that it will:
- Change the law to ban the use of force against debtors and stop bailiffs entering homes when only children are present.
- Ban bailiffs from visiting debtors at night - they will only be allowed to enter between 6am and 9pm.
- Introduce mandatory training and a new certification process for bailiffs
- Legislate on a simple set of rules and fees detailing when a bailiff can enter a property, what goods they can take and a fee structure which will end excessive and multiple fees.
- Ensure vulnerable people get assistance and advice and train bailiffs to recognise them.
- Ban landlords from using bailiffs to seize property for residential rent arrears without going to court.
Last year the Government updated National Standards for Enforcement Agents and guidance for people in debt on Gov.uk which served as a reminder to bailiffs and creditors of their responsibilities. These changes will protect people in debt from rogue bailiffs and ensure creditors have a better understanding and more confidence in the process being carried out on their behalf.
The changes will be made by enacting parts of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 and creating new laws through the Crime and Courts Bill. The Bill is currently progressing through Parliament.
Notes to editors:
- View the Government’s response to the bailiff consultation.
- An amendment in the Crime and Courts Bill will amend Part 3 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act to prevent bailiffs from using force against people.
- The Government will commence Part 3 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 and introduce secondary legislation which will cover the following: when and how bailiffs can enter properties and what goods they can seize; ban bailiffs from entering when only children are present and from entering repayment plans with children; introduction of fixed fees, mandatory training and a certification process.
- For more information call the Ministry of Justice press office on 0203 334 3536. Follow us on twitter @MoJPress.