Setting up payment arrangements with bailiffs
It is vitally important to be aware, that in order to avoid a bailiff visit (and the debt incurring an ‘enforcement fee’ of £235), a payment proposal must be agreed within the very strict time frame outlined on the Notice of Enforcement (a minimum of seven ‘clear days’ from the date of the notice). This period is referred to in the regulations as the ‘Compliance stage’. From our experience, most companies are willing to accept a payment proposal over a period of 3 months and in some cases, even 6 months. Most companies will insist on the first payment being made at the time of setting up the payment arrangement.
A payment proposal should be set up over the telephone as soon as you receive the Notice of Enforcement and any ‘vulnerability’ should be brought to the attention of the bailiff company at this stage. When setting up a payment arrangement, you should make clear the date on which payments will be made (ie: 31st of each month etc). If the payment date falls on a bank holiday (or a Sunday) you must ensure that your payment is made in cleared funds before the due date. Failure to do so, will lead to the payment arrangement defaulting.
Defaulting on a payment arrangement.
If a payment is made late, the bailiff company are not required to send a reminder letter. Instead, the account will be recorded as having ‘defaulted’ and will be passed to an individual bailiff for the purpose of visiting your property to take control of your goods. The bailiff is legally permitted to charge an enforcement fee of £235 when making this visit (the fee will be different for High Court judgments).
Can I make payment direct to the local authority or Magistrates Court?
The local authority cannot refuse your payment but, if the purpose of making payment to the council is to avoid paying bailiff fees then sadly, this will not be achieved. We have a page here detailing the difficulty with paying the council (or magistrates court) direct.
If the debt being enforced is a criminal court fine, then please note that if you make payment direct to the court after the case has been referred to a bailiff company, then in all cases, the payment will be transferred by the court to the relevant enforcement company (Marston Holdings, Collectica Ltd, Swift Credit Services or Excel Enforcement).
Can I make a payment arrangement with the bailiff when he attends my property?
Yes, but it is sadly the case that getting a payment proposal accepted during a personal visit is much more difficult…and even more so, if the bailiff notices a vehicle on the driveway that could be sold at auction to clear the debt. Therefore, wherever possible, a payment proposal should be made during the ‘compliance stage’ outlined in the Notice of Enforcement.
Note from Bailiff Advice:
If you have a debt that is being enforced by bailiffs and are experiencing difficulty in getting a payment arrangement accepted with the bailiff company, you can email a question to us using our popular Question page. Alternatively, you can contact Bailiff Advice by phone. Details are on our Contact page.
A simple overview of the new Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 including details of fees that can be charged, notices that must be given by the bailiff and items that are ‘exempt’ can be read here.