Frequently Asked Questions | Bailiff Advice Guide

A free resource with all the information you need to handle bailiffs properly.


Some of the most frequently asked questions that our advisers help with answered.

What are bailiffs?

Bailiffs exist to collect unpaid debts. When local councils find themselves being owed money that's not been paid they can instruct a bailiff to collect a debt on their behalf.

Bailiffs deliver paperwork on behalf of the council or creditor.

Once the paperwork has been delivered, a certified bailiff will attempt to recover the council tax arrears or debt using negotiation techniques with you. If the bailiff can't reach a negotiated re-payment resolution, it can become possible for the bailiff to remove goods up to the value of that owed.

Some bailiffs have different powers but there are rules and regulations that all bailiffs have to adhere to. Bailiffs who are not certified cannot levy on your goods.

When do bailiffs come?

Bailiffs have to work within certain rules. Certified Bailiffs are required to attend your property between sunrise and sunset if they are collecting rent arrears.

Bailiffs collecting other types of debt are simply required to call at a reasonable hour which is generally considered to be between 06:00 and 21:00

Sundays and bank holidays are days upon which bailiffs are not aloud to call unless they have permission to do so from the court.

What is a bailiff allowed to take?

Bailiffs can only take goods if you let them into your home. The first step is to not let them in at all but even if you do, Bailiffs can't take everything:

Certified bailiffs cannot take protected items:

  • Clothing, bedding, your fridge, cooker or any other houshold good which is needed for you and your family's basic needs.
  • No tools of trade, vehicles or items which you need to carry on working.
  • Anything that is attached to a wall.
  • Children's clothes and playthings. Please note, bailiffs can remove children's bikes.

What are bailiff authorities?

There are different types of Bailiff Authorities:

  • Magistrate Courts can issue a distress warrant or liability order to collect unpaid council tax, maintenance of unpaid fines.
  • If money is being recovered under a county court judgement, the court will issue a Warrant of Execution.

Do bailiffs carry identification?

You can and must request to see a bailiffs identification as all bailiffs carry an ID. You must also be shown their General Certificate as it is not acceptable to only show their ID.

Can the police stop bailiffs?

Police Officers are unable to help bailiffs in any way to gain entry into your home. Bailiffs sometimes call the police but this can only ever be to prevent a breach of the peace.

You can call the police if you feel intimidated by bailiffs or if you think the bailiff is acting illegally.

I've had a bailiff letter. What now?

Open it and read it. If the bailiff comes around, don't let them in. You must also never sign any paperwork a bailiff puts in front of you. Ensure all doors and windows are locked at all times.

Bailiffs want to negotiate monthly repayments with you but usually will not accept an offer that you can actually afford.

If a bailiff comes and they are from the County Court, you can apply to have the court warrant suspended. My Bailiff Advice can help you with this. Speak to us now.

I would like to make a complaint about a bailiff but how?

You are well within your rights to make complaints about bailiffs if they have not acted in a professional manner or if they have broken the law. Your first port of call is to speak to the creditor who instructed the bailiff. This is most likely to be your local authority or the County Court.

It's possible the bailiff has been employed by a private company. In this case, you should send you complaint to that company. Bailiffs usually belong to a trade association and these have set complaints procedures that you can follow.

Try the Civil Enforcement Association:

Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA), 513 Bradford Road, Batley, West Yorkshire, WF17 8LL


You can also take the bailiff to court if you wish. You can apply to have the bailiffs certificate removed if the bailiff took too many goods away than was actually necessary to pay off your debt.

It is generally considered negligence if your goods are sold at less than the second hand value or the goods are damaged.

Arrange a monthly repayment you can afford.

Get your finances straight for good.

Call 03000 999 333

and speak to our friendly advisers totally free.