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Alice H
Alice H, Solicitor/Partner
Category: Law
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I need legal advice on how to deal with an abusive bailiff,

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I need legal advice on how to deal with an abusive bailiff, collecting on behalf of MK Council -council tax arrears. My mom is currently being treated for depression and extreme high level of anxiety (thus falling under the Mental Health care umbrella). It is my property (as lease-holder of council flat) and my mom resides with me - but all the attached articles are mine and I do not have all the receipts for it. We had called the offices (Bristow and Sutor) and two advisers thus far have stated that the bailiff in question may not enter our property because of guidelines followed by MKC regarding mental health clients. He has now called for the 4th time today and quite bullishly stated that he will be entering the property by 6am tomorrow morning, even though we have an agreed telephone arrangement in place with his office. Help
My name isXXXXX and I'm happy to help with your question today.

How much is owing?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

the total due now is £1223.78

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

are you there?


 

OK.

Your offer does not appear to be unreasonable in the circumstances. £300 is 25% of the outstanding sum and clearly a significant reduction of the debt. However, it is a matter for the bailiff to decide whether this sum is acceptable or not - unfortunately there is no rule which says he must accept this sum. So there are some things you need to do.

Firstly, you should know that bailiffs collecting council tax have no power to force initial entry or break open an outer door if it is either locked or bolted. They must enter a property peacefully through an unlocked door or through an open window. They may not enter through a closed window, even if it is not locked. They cannot obtain a court order to gain entry and the police have no power to force entry on their behalf. Bailiffs can only force entry if they have previously gained peaceful entry. If you shut your doors and windows the bailiff cannot enter.

Second, if you can, you should record any conversation with the bailiff. You must tell him that your mother is vulnerable and you have every intention but obviously £500 is beyond your reach. The bailiff has no right to demand more than you can pay. He cannot remove any property that does not belong to your mother.

Third, if he starts getting aggressive or threatening you must ring the police. A bailiff is not above the law. Any intimidating or harassing behaviour could result in the police taking action against him. Its too late for you to do anything else tonight but in the morning the police should be the first people you ring.

Your best tactic though is not to open your doors or windows. You can speak to the bailiff through the letter box. Ask to see a copy of the warrant and also the details of which Court the bailiff is registered with - once tomorrow has passed you can lodge a complaint about the bailiff with the Court and, if he is found to have acted unlawfully, he could have his certificate removed.

Hope this helps.

Alex
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Dear Alex


 


It is then assumed that he may enter by force, as I had let him into the property today. My concern is that he has now as much as 5 times stated that I stop lying and that we had NOT called his office and if we did - we had to only deal with him in securring an agreement. He is demanding all receipts of my movable property, of which I cannot produce. What are the law's guidelines in dealing with mental health clients?

There is no hard and fast rule about dealing with people with mental health issues.

There nearest thing to a code of practice is the National Standards for Enforcement Agents issued by the Ministry of Justice - I have set out the link below and you will see the document in question at the bottom of the page.

http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/enforcement-officers

The guidance essentially states that people with mental health issues are potentially vulnerable and in that situation the bailiff ought to discuss with the creditor (e.g. MK) whether any further or alternative steps should be taken.

You have to remember that the bailiff is acting on behalf of and receiving insructions from MK. Usually the bailiff is under pressure to collect within a certain time frame but the council can agree to vary this time limit and postpone collection activities.

Its a shame that you allowed this person into your premises. But he is not allowed to bully, harass or intimidate you. The Ministry of Justice expects bailiffs to act in a professional manner and maintain a high standard of business ethics and practice. Anything less than this woukd give you a right to complain about the bailiff to the council and the Court - but unfortunately you're not going to have time to do that between now and early tomorrow morning.

Alex
Alice H and 4 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Thanks. Remember: you can ask the police to attend if you feel threatened or intimidated. A bailiff is nothing more than a collection agent - they must still comply with the law. Nobody has the right to bully and upset you. Good luck.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Alex, yes luck is an understatement now but will read through your recommended documentation.


 


Kind regards


Andrea and Caron Brown