As part of the measures, bailiffs will be banned from entering homes at night or when only children are present. They also include safeguards preventing bailiffs from taking basic household items.
Justice Minister Helen Grant said today:
‘There are some very good, reputable bailiffs around, but we know there is bad practice out there that needs to be dealt with.
‘For too long bailiffs have gone unregulated, allowing a small minority to give the industry a bad name.
‘These laws will help to clean up the industry and ensure bailiffs play by the rules. They will also make sure businesses and public bodies can collect their debts fairly.’
The Government has taken action following a consultation last year on aggressive bailiffs. The measures laid in Parliament today are part of a wider package of reforms which will implement Part 3 of the Tribunals, Courts & Enforcement Act 2007. The changes will take effect in April 2014. The new measures will:
- 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.
- Ban landlords from using bailiffs to seize property for residential rent arrears without going to court.
- Prevent bailiffs from taking household items, such as a cooker, microwave, refrigerator or washing machine, because they are deemed to be reasonably required to satisfy the basic domestic needs of the debtor.
- Ensure a notice period of seven days is given to the debtor before bailiffs take control of the debtor’s goods.
- Ban bailiffs from selling goods removed from a debtor, unless seven days have passed from the date the goods were removed.
- Make bailiffs responsible for proving to a court that there are, or likely to be, goods of the debtor on the premises before being granted the power to use reasonable force to gain entry. Before a warrant is granted, bailiffs must give the court information on the likely means of entry, the amount of force required and how the premises will be left in a secure state afterwards.
Last year, the Government updated the 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.
Notes to editors:
- The regulations laid before Parliament today set out the procedure enforcement agents must follow when taking control of goods and, if necessary, selling them to recover a debt. It forms part of a package of long awaited reforms set out in Government’s response to the ‘Transforming Bailiff Action’ consultation.
- The remaining elements of the reforms, setting out the fees an enforcement agent can charge and the rules governing mandatory training and certification will be taken forward later this year. It is our intention to lay these before Parliament in the autumn.
- For more information, please contact the Ministry of Justice Press Office on 0203 334 3536.