Bailiff enforcement and vulnerability is a vitally important subject. If you or anyone you know, is vulnerable and facing bailiff enforcement, this page should be of assistance. The enforcement regulations provide some protection from bailiff action for those who are genuinely vulnerable. However, such protection is only possible if the enforcement company are made aware of any vulnerability at the earliest possible stage.
How do I know if I am considered vulnerable?
Vulnerability, for ‘enforcement’ purposes is very difficult to define. For example, being disabled does not necessarily mean that you will be excluded from bailiff enforcement. Some people may be constantly vulnerable (due to permanent lack of mental capacity or very severe disability etc). Others may be temporarily vulnerable (for example, through suffering mental illness for a short period of time, bereavement, pregnancy, unemployment etc). Each case is unique and will be looked at individually by the enforcement company or bailiff.
By and large, when it comes to bailiff enforcement, vulnerability is usually reserved for extreme cases. An example could be where your medical condition could worsen if a bailiff were to visit you or where you are unable to manage your own affairs etc.
The Taking Control of Goods National Standards 2014
Although the National Standards are not legally binding, they are nonetheless a very helpful tool for the enforcement industry and creditors alike. On the difficult subject of vulnerability, they provide that the following groups might be considered vulnerable:
People with a disability
The seriously ill
The recently bereaved
Single parent families
Those who have difficulty in understanding, speaking or reading English
Motor vehicles and vulnerability
A vehicle used for transportation needs of a disabled person, will be exempt from seizure as long as it is displaying a valid blue disability badge.
Bailiff fees and vulnerability
If you are vulnerable, further protection is provided under Regulation 12 of the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014. This provides that if the enforcement agent visits your property and is satisfied that you are vulnerable, he should not remove any goods (that is not to say that he cannot request payment). Instead, he must give you the opportunity to seek advice from a debt advice agency/charity etc. If he fails to do so, the enforcement fee of £235 is not recoverable. It is important to stress here that Regulation 12 is intended to protect goods belonging to a vulnerable debtor from being removed.
Do I have to provide any evidence that I may be vulnerable?
In the first instance, it is vitally important to contact the enforcement agency at the earliest opportunity (preferably on receipt of the Notice of Enforcement). By doing so, you will likely avoid a personal visit being made. Initial contact should be made by telephone and a brief outline of your personal circumstances should be given to the operator. You will be advised what documentary evidence they require. It is usual for a letter from your doctor or specialist to be requested. A letter from the DWP confirming an award of Disability Living Allowance/Carers Allowance/PiP/ESA may also be necessary.
Bailiff enforcement and vulnerable households.
If you are vulnerable, please don’t be tempted to download template letters from internet sites. In particular, please don’t be tempted to send a template letter to claim that you are from a vulnerable household. If there is serious disability in the family, whilst this does not exclude the bailiff from taking enforcement action, it is important to bring such instances to the enforcement agencies attention. This may affect the approach made by the enforcement agent and possibly lead to the debt being managed in-house by the enforcement company’s Welfare Department.
Given the importance of vulnerability to the enforcement industry (and their local authority clients) most companies have dedicated Welfare Departments with specialty trained staff. Once vulnerability has been identified, the account will be managed in-house. A personal visit from a bailiff will be avoided.
Commentary from Bailiff Advice Online
If you are vulnerable and worried about a bailiff visit or have contacted the enforcement company or bailiff and are having difficulty getting the company to accept that you are genuinely vulnerable, then please do not hesitate to contact us. You can email a question to us using our online Enquiry Form. Alternatively, you can contact us by phone. Details can be found on our Contact page.