2. Important changes to bailiff action

Changes to enforcement

From 6th April 2014 new regulations came into force that affect way the council recovers council tax, business rates and parking debts by the use of enforcement agents (formerly bailiffs)

The new regulations:

  • Declared that bailiffs ceased to exist and became enforcement agents
  • Established a requirement for a compliance stage as part of the debt recovery process
  • Made changes to the days and hours when enforcement action can take place
  • Provided restrictions on how an enforcement agent may access a property
  • Provided restrictions on the goods an enforcement agent can take
  • Defined how the sale of any goods seized will be handled

Stages of recovery

Compliance stage

Debtors will be given 7 days’ notice before an enforcement agent visits them. This is to give the debtor time to contact the council to seek advice regarding their arrears or offer a suitable payment arrangement. A fixed fee of £75 will be applied when the  notice is issued and will be applied to each liability order issued.

Enforcement stage

If a visit is required the debtor will incur a further fixed fee of £235 plus 7.5% for any balance due above £1,500.

A debtor can be visited any day of the week between 6am -9pm or during the debtor’s business hours. The only restrictions are Christmas Day and Easter Sunday.

A Controlled Goods Agreement may also be agreed with a debtor, this is where the agent makes a list of the debtor’s possessions that are  equal in value to the debt. These goods cannot be disposed of or sold without the enforcement agent's permission.

Removal of goods:

If required to remove goods an enforcement agent may enter the property, to take goods listed in the Controlled Goods Agreement. The debtor will incur costs of £110 plus 7.5% for any balance due above £1,500. Enforcement agents may also recover costs that are reasonable and actually incurred such as the cost of storage of goods removed and the cost of a locksmith.