debt collector 918x516 - Best practices in negotiating with a bailiff

Best practices in negotiating with a bailiff

Avoiding the bailiff’s visit

Before the bailiff turns up on your doorstep or at your place of work you will have received notification that they will be doing so. It’s a good idea not to ignore this notice and it could well be in your best interest to respond to them right away in order to try and arrive at an amicable solution to suit both of your needs. This is a highly advantageous option to having your belongings seized in order to try and recover your debt.

You can avoid face-to-face meetings by liaising over the phone but if you really want to show a desire to help resolve the issue one very positive step is to get help with bailiffs and even meet at their offices to try and work out some form of resolution. This will also prevent the bailiff from creating an inventory of the belongings they could seize for a ‘controlled goods agreement’.

Advantages of avoiding a bailiff visiting your home

The bailiff will try their best to gain access to your home. If they gain access on their first visit, which they have to do by peaceful means, then on any subsequent visits they are allowed to use an appropriate force to gain an equal level of entry. This could be forcing a lock or breaking a window so it is imperative to keep the bailiff outside your home at all costs. Without access they cannot remove any of your valuables or belongings. If you can prevent their visit then you will have also averted a difficult and stressful situation.

Play fair and keep calm

The bailiff is there to do a job on behalf of the Court so in order to get the best from them and the least amount of unpleasantness you should try and work together in a positive manner to reach a fair solution. The bailiff will be more than happy to help you find an easier option to repay your debt as long as the end result is that the debt gets paid.

It’s always advantageous to show courtesy, be polite and remember your manners. Getting angry and causing conflict will only add more problems and ill feeling to an already difficult situation.

Pay the debt in full

If you can cover the debt then pay it in full. All proceedings will stop right there and life can go back to normal. However, if you’ve got to the point where a bailiff is involved then chances are this is no longer an option. If you can find the means to cover the debt by alternative means it may be a better option than working things out with the bailiff.

Pay them something

If you can pay them any sum at all against what you owe then do. It shows a willingness to comply and a desire to work at repaying your debt. Always make sure you get a receipt for all payments in order to have proof of payment if they fail to show up on your account.

Creating a payment plan

By making your bailiff aware of your personal financial situation they should be understanding of what you can realistically afford to pay and over what term. By making the bailiff sympathetic to your situation you are now in a position to discuss appropriate manageable terms and the comfort in which you can adhere to them.

If the bailiff is unwilling to work with you to find a mutual arrangement then you should inform them that you will approach your creditor directly to discuss preferable terms with them instead. You can politely cease your discussion with them there and then.

Avoiding a Controlled Goods Agreement

If you can agree to mutual terms the bailiff may still wish to create a Controlled Goods Agreement. This is a list of all of the belongings they are entitled to remove from your property in order to sell by auction to recover the debt. This agreement holds a daily charge that is added to the original debt amount.

The bailiff must have gained access to the property through peaceful methods in order to create the inventory otherwise it cannot be considered to be legally acquired. This is another solid reason to prevent the bailiff from gaining access of any kind to your home.

The agreement will act as an incentive for you to make your payments but also as a guarantee of funds to the bailiff if you fail to do so. The agreement sets out that any of the items on the list are now the property of the bailiff and they have the right to seize them whenever you fail to stick to your part of the agreement. This is the ruling that allows them to use appropriate force to gain entry to your property to retrieve what legally belongs to them.

They will only seize the items on the agreement if you fail to make the terms of the new plan.

How to rescind a bailiff’s warrant

You can complete the form N245 and return it to the Court in order to explain your financial situation and to outline favourable terms that you should be able to adhere to. This carries a cost of £40 and your creditor has 14 days to object to your new terms if they choose to do so. They must give their reasons why but if no objection is made the Court will suspend the bailiff’s warrant as long as you uphold the new terms.

If the creditor objects the Court can review the new information and decide terms it feels fair to both parties. If the creditor objects again the matter will be brought in front of a District Judge who will create a final order after considering all evidence brought forward by both sides.

Complaining about a bailiff’s behaviour

If you feel you have been mistreated or that the bailiff has harassed or bullied you unnecessarily, that they haven’t adhered to the laws set out to control their actions, then you are entitled to write a letter of complaint to the company they work for.

Even though a bailiff is collecting money on behalf of the Court they will be working for a private company. It is the company’s job to rectify any problems you have with their staff.

If you still feel that the matter hasn’t been suitably resolved you can approach the Civil Enforcement Association who regulate a bailiff’s actions.

If a bailiff or a debt collector ever threatens you physically you should contact the police immediately as this is a most serious infringement of the law.

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