A small minority of bailiffs have been allowed to give the collections industry a bad name, a government minister has said.
But Lords Faulks added that tough new regulations, coming into force in April, will tackle the rogue bailiffs while ensuring that debts can be collected.
Faulks, a junior justice minister, urged representatives of bailiffs’ companies and local authorities to rise to the challenge of the new regime.
Speaking at the Civil Enforcement Association conference held in London last month, he said: ‘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.’
There are new mandatory training and certification requirements for bailiffs, and a simplified fees structure.
To crack down on heavy-handed behaviour, rules on how and when bailiffs can pursue debt will be imposed.
These 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, needed to meet the basic domestic needs of the debtor.
- Ensure seven days’ notice is given before bailiffs take control of the debtor’s goods.
- Ban bailiffs from selling goods for seven days after they have been removed from a debtor.
- 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.
I am pleased to see that Faulks acknowledged it is a minority who bring the industry into disrepute. In his speech he said: ‘There are some very good, reputable bailiffs around, but we know there is bad practice out there that needs to be dealt with.’
SJ Collections is committed to treating debtors fairly while providing businesses with effective means of debt recovery.