Legal News | New Laws To Curb Bailiff Activity

Justice Minister Helen Grant announced today that new laws will be brought in next year that will ‘clean up’ the industry and help to protect vulnerable debtors.

Currently bailiffs are not allowed to force their way into a person’s home, although if the debtor doesn’t let them in or agree to pay them, they can charge more fees, so the person could end up owing even more money and they are allowed to take things from outside the individual’s home, such as a car.

However, if they are allowed in, but don’t get paid, they may take some of the debtor’s belongings, which they are allowed to sell to pay the debt and cover their fees. It should also be noted that bailiffs are allowed to enter by force to collect unpaid criminal fines, Income Tax or VAT, but only as a last resort.

Under the new laws however, bailiffs will be banned from entering homes at night or where only children are present, and new safeguards will prevent them from using force against people who owe money.

Ms Grant said that a small minority of bailiffs using aggressive tactics had tarnished the name of the industry, which is only partly regulated at the moment, and that a shake up was long overdue.

Consequently, following a Ministry of Justice consultation last year, the government will legislate in 2014 to introduce new measures to combat the problem and will introduce mandatory training and a new certification process for bailiffs.

According to Ms Grant, there will be a set of simple rules detailing when a bailiff can enter a property, what they can take and a fee structure to end excessive and multiple charges, while landlords will be banned from using bailiffs to seize property for rent arrears, without going to court.

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Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London

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