New laws set to regulate the conduct of bailiffs

LAWS to tackle aggressive bailiffs will be introduced next year in England and Wales, the government has announced.

Bailiffs will be banned from entering homes at night or where only children are present, and new safeguards will prevent them from using force against people who owe money reports the BBC.

They will also no longer have free rein to fix their own fees, because set fee scales will be brought in.

Justice Minister Helen Grant said the crackdown was badly needed.

The bailiff industry is fragmented and partly unregulated, and there have been concerns from householders and businesses about heavy handed tactics employed to recover debts, says BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman.

Mrs Grant said a small minority of bailiffs had been able to give the industry a bad name. It is being reported to us from MPs and other organisations that there is bad practice, and we need to deal with it”

She also said the fees charged were sometimes “extortionate”.

Following a Ministry of Justice consultation last year, the government will legislate next year to introduce new measures to combat the problem.

Mandatory training and a new certification process for bailiffs will be introduced.

There will be a set of simple rules detailing when a bailiff can enter a property, what they can take and a fee structure to end excessive and multiple charges.

Landlords will be banned from using bailiffs to seize property for rent arrears, without going to court.

Mrs Grant said: “Bailiffs will not be able to use force against the person and they will not be able to enter any homes with just children there.

“There are some very good bailiffs around, don’t get me wrong – but it is being reported to us from MPs and other organisations that there is bad practice, and we need to deal with it.”

Companies, councils and courts all use bailiffs to collect money owed to them.

 

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