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Enforcement Agents

Once we have a Liability Order against you, we may choose to use an Enforcement Agent to recover your debts. An Enforcement Agent can take stock and goods or may come to a payment arrangement.

Bailiff (Enforcement Agent) Law and Regulations from 6th April 2014

The law relating to bailiffs changed on 6th April 2014.

The Changes;

  • Bailiffs will now be known as Enforcement Agents
  • There is a new fee structure
  • Enforcement Agents must now follow a three stage process;

Stage 1 - Compliance.

Upon receipt of an instruction, the Enforcement Agent shall give the debtor a minimum of seven clear days notice that a visit will take place to take control of goods.

Stage 2 - Enforcement.

An Enforcement Agent shall attend the premises to take control of goods and undertake activities necessary prior to the removal of goods.

Stage 3 - Sale.

An Enforcement Agent shall attend the premises to either remove goods for sale, or start the preparations for sale if the sale is to take place on the premises. This stage ends when the goods have been sold or disposed of.

New Fee Structure

A new fee structure has been introduced and the fees relating to the three stages above are triggered as soon as each stage begins. These are the Enforcement Agent's fees, not the Council's. The fees have been set up by central Government and will be periodically reviewed.

Compliance Stage Fee £75.00.

-The Enforcement Agent will charge this fee as soon as your debt is passed to them by the Council. The fee is payable for each Liability Order, so the total fee could be much more.

Enforcement Stage Fee £235.00 (plus 7.5% of the value of the debt that exceeds £1,500.00).

-This fee shall be charged by the Enforcement Agent when the premises are visited for the first time.

Sale Stage Fee £110.00 (plus 7.5% of the value of the debt that exceeds £1,500.00).

-This fee shall be charged when an Enforcement Agent attends the premises to remove goods and make preparations for the sale of goods.

There are additional fees which the Enforcement Agent may charge relating to the removal and storage of goods and locksmith's fees.

There are transitional arrangements in place for cases already with the bailiffs before 6th April 2014.

Other Important Changes

  • The new regulations have removed the term 'bailiff'. Bailiffs are now known as Enforcement Agents.
  • The terms Levy, distress and walking possession are now known as the process of 'taking control of goods'.
  • An Enforcement Agent is permitted to visit your property seven days a week between 6.00am and 9.00pm, excluding bank Holidays and Christmas Day.
  • Tools used in the course of your work may be removed by the Enforcement Agent if they have a value of more than £1,350.00
  • From receiving a case, the Enforcement Agent has 12 months in which to take control of goods. The 12 month period ends if a payment arrangement is made, but begins afresh if the arrangement is broken.
  • An Enforcement Agent will give written notice to the owner or co-owner of any goods which have been taken control of.

The procedure and notes prior to 6th April 2014

Once the Council have gained a Liability Order against you, one of the options available to recover the unpaid Council Tax is through levying distress. This is when the Council instructs bailiffs (our local company is 'Bristow & Sutor') to take some of your possessions to sell in order to pay off your debt. These are sold at a public auction. Your possessions will be taken by a Certificated bailiff (approved by the Court), at any time of the day and wherever you happen to be situated.

Usually, the bailiff will visit your home with the intention of collecting cash or a cheque from you to pay of your Council Tax or Business rate debt. It may also be possible to set up instalments with the bailiffs - but they are not obliged to do this.

In many incidences, where the action goes ahead, the bailiff makes an 'actual seizure'. This means that the bailiff arrives and immediately removes goods from the premises, however, it is possible for the bailiff to let the goods stay in the property so long as you make an arrangement and pay the outstanding Council Tax or Business rates. If you do not keep up the payments however, the possessions will be removed. This is known as 'walking possession'. This may occur if it is not possible for the goods to be removed immediately.

The opposite may also occur. This is when the bailiff stays with the goods until your debt is paid off or the possessions can be taken away. This is known as 'close possession'.

There are some possessions that are safe from levying distress. These include any items that do not belong to the individual named on the Liability Order. There are also certain possessions that the bailiff cannot remove. These include items which are essential for the basic needs of you and your family e.g. food, clothes and bedding etc, and for businesses includes items that are necessary for the debtor to maintain employment, e.g. tools, books or vehicles etc. Fixtures and fittings may not be removed.

If this means that some of the debt is still not paid off, as there are not enough goods to cover the amount owed, an option available is to commence committal proceedings in the Court.

The bailiff can:

  • Enter your property through an unlocked door
  • Enter your property through an open window or door
  • Break down the door to get in, as long as they have already made a legal entry but then forcefully made to leave.

The Bailiff cannot:

  • Break into your property
  • Enter your property through force if you refuse to let them enter.
  • Take an item that does not belong to the person named on the Liability Order if it is proven that it is not theirs.

The more action the bailiffs have to take against you the greater the outstanding monies will be because they will add their costs to your debt.

If you are in arrears with your Council Tax or Business Rates and wish to discuss payments or the action being taken against you, please contact us as soon as possible.