Your rights versus bailiffs’ rights

If you’ve received an enforcement notice and you are expecting a visit from the bailiff or enforcement officer, you need to know your rights on what a bailiff can and can’t do when they visit your premises.  We talk through their rights, and yours below.  We also recommend you have a look at our other pages: stopping bailiffs before they visit and what happens when bailiffs take control of your goods.


Contact Us

When can bailiffs visit? 

Bailiffs (also known as enforcement officers) can only carry out enforcement between 6am and 9pm on any day of the week.  

The only exceptions to this would be if they have a court order to say otherwise.  Or, if your normal business hours are outside of these times.  Bailiffs are entitled to visit your premises during normal trading hours.

If a bailiff enters your home or if your home address is your business address, and they find that there is only a child under 16 present, they must leave immediately.

Forcing entry into your premises or home

In general, bailiffs can’t force entry into your business premises or home.  They must be invited or allowed in.  The only circumstances in which bailiffs can force entry are if:

  • They are chasing an unpaid magistrates’ court fine
  • Or unpaid CCJs or High Court Judgments
  • A court has given them the right to do so to collect debts owing to HMRC
  • The court has given them the right to do so because they believe you’ve deliberately taken your belongings to stop them being seized

If bailiffs are entitled to force entry into your home or place of business, they are only entitled to use reasonable force.

What does reasonable force mean?

A bailiff has to use normal means of entry, so generally this means they must enter through a door, a gate, garage etc but not windows.  They cannot climb over fences or walls, but they can force a door and break the lock, or cut through padlocks etc.

They can’t however, touch you or force their way past you or anyone else.

What can bailiffs take?

There are restrictions on what bailiffs can and can’t take from your business, which depend on whether you are a sole trader, or your business is a limited company.

 

LIMITED COMPANY

SOLE TRADER

 

CAN BE TAKEN

  • Goods that belong to the limited company only
  • Money
  • Any assets that you solely own, or jointly own (even if with your partner) Sole trader debts are treated the same as personal debts  
  • Stock, office equipment or machinery
  • Cash, cheques or other monetary items
 

CAN’T BE TAKEN

  • Goods that are leased or on HP
  • Items that are leased or on HP
  • Goods that you personally own (rather than the company) unless they are subject to a personal guarantee
  • Items that belong to somebody else, or a child
  • Computers up to a value of £1350
  • Anything essential for basic domestic needs

 

If you are concerned about bailiff action and / or other cash flow problems and would like advice, please feel free to contact one of our business rescue experts directly.