Council tax recovery

 April 2014

Fact sheet no. 02

Council tax bailiffs


changes to bailiff law

On 6 April 2014, the law on bailiffs changed. The information in this fact sheet is based on our understanding of the new rules. Some bailiffs may interpret the new rules differently. It is not yet clear how the new rules will be applied in practice. If you are unsure whether a bailiff’s actions are legal, contact us for advice.


register of bailiffs

Check that the bailiff is certificated. There is an  on-line register of certificated bailiffs. See the section on How to complain later in this fact sheet.

Council tax is usually collected by private firms of bailiffs on behalf of your local council. They try to take your goods away and sell them, usually at auction, to raise money to pay the debt. The council needs to issue a 'warrant of control' to authorise bailiffs to act. The process the bailiffs have to follow is called ‘taking control of goods’.
Bailiffs who call must be ‘certificated’. This means they must have a certificate from the county court allowing them to act as bailiffs. You can complain to the county court about a certificated bailiff.
The bailiff should give you seven clear days’ notice that they are due to visit you. This is sometimes known as an ‘enforcement notice’. ‘Clear days’ do not include Sundays, Christmas Day or bank holidays.

When the enforcement notice is issued, the bailiffs have a right to try to take control of your goods. This applies even if you move the goods or give them to someone else at any time, even if this is within the seven clear days' notice period.

Do I have to let the bailiffs in?

You do not have to let the bailiffs into your home. The bailiffs should not force their way into your home unless:

  • you have let them in on a previous visit;
  • they took control of your goods and you have broken the agreement you made with the bailiffs; and
  • they have given you two clear days’ notice. 

If you have not let the bailiffs in before, keep your doors locked. It is also a good idea to keep windows closed. A bailiff can take control of goods outside your home, so if you have a vehicle, keep it in a locked garage. If you park the vehicle on your drive, the bailiffs could clamp it.

You could park the vehicle away from your property, but if you park it on a public road and the bailiff finds it, they could clamp or remove it. Contact us for advice.


changes to bailiff law

This is our understanding of the new rules on bailiffs from 6 April 2014. Some bailiffs may argue that under the new rules, they can go anywhere they like to take control of your goods. They may say that this allows them to come into your home even if they have not been in before and that you should not refuse them entry. If a bailiff says things like this to you, contact us for advice.

Politely but firmly refuse to let the bailiffs in, without opening the door to them. Offer what you can afford to pay. If the bailiffs accept your offer, ask them to return to their car and go out and pay them. Make sure you get a receipt.