A bailiff may visit your home if you don’t pay your debts - eg a Council Tax bill, parking fine, court fine or county court judgment.
This will happen if you ignore reminder and warning letters, saying that bailiffs will be used.
You can stop bailiffs from visiting by paying the money you owe. Talk to the person or business you owe money to as soon as possible to get advice on how to pay your debt.
Dealing with bailiffs
In most cases, you don’t have to open your front door to a bailiff or let them in.
Bailiffs are not usually allowed to force their way into your home - eg by pushing past you, or putting their foot in the door.
However, if you don’t let them in or agree to pay them:
- they can charge you more fees
- you could end up owing even more money
- they could take things from outside your home - eg your car
If you do let them in, but don’t pay them, they may take some of your belongings. They could sell the items to pay the debt and cover their fees.
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.
What to ask a bailiff
Before you pay a bailiff, or let them in to take your things, ask to see:
- proof of their identity - eg a badge or ID card
- a detailed breakdown of their charges
Paying a bailiff
You can pay the bailiff on the doorstep - you don’t have to invite them into your home.
Make sure you get a receipt, to prove you’ve paid.
If you can’t pay all the money right away, speak to the bailiff about how you could pay the money back.
Offer to pay what you can realistically afford in weekly or monthly payments.
The bailiff does not have to accept your offer.
Help or advice
You can get free help or advice on dealing with bailiffs from:
What bailiffs can and can’t take
If you let a bailiff into your home, they may take some of your belongings to sell.
Bailiffs can take luxury items - eg a TV or games console.
They can’t take:
- things you need - eg your clothes, cooker, fridge, furniture or work tools
- someone else’s belongings - eg your partner’s computer
You will have to prove that someone else’s goods don’t belong to you.
What bailiffs can charge
Bailiffs will usually charge you for visits to your home - this will be added to what you owe.
They can also charge you fees for coming into your home and taking your belongings.
You can challenge them and complain if you think they’re charging too much, or for something they haven’t done.