New laws target aggressive bailiffs

BailiffAggressive bailiffs are to be targeted by new laws that will stop them from entering homes at night or when only children are present.

Measures laid in Parliament, which will take effect in April 2014, will also ban bailiffs from taking key household items, such as a cooker, microwave, refrigerator or washing machine.

A notice period of seven days must be given to the debtor before bailiffs take control of his or her goods, under the regulations unveiled by the Ministry of Justice.

Justice Minister Helen Grant said: "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 reforms are part of a wider package under changes to the Tribunals, Courts & Enforcement Act 2007.

Other measures will stop bailiffs from selling goods removed from a debtor unless seven days have passed from the date the goods were removed.

In addition, bailiffs will be responsible for proving to a court that there are, or are likely to be, goods of the debtor on the premises before being granted the power to use reasonable force to gain entry.

Last year, the Government updated the National Standards for Enforcement Agents and guidance for people in debt online, which served as a reminder to bailiffs and creditors of their responsibilities.