On 6th April 2014 major changes were made in the law relating to bailiffs and the fees that they charge for collecting unpaid debts. Bailiffs are now known legally as enforcement agents.
The enforcement agent must:
- carry official identification at all times
- carry written authorisation to act on behalf of the council
- produce the above items if asked to identify themselves
- issue an official receipt for payments
If the Business Rate debt is sent to an enforcement agent, they will send a notice asking for payment in full. A £75 fee will be added to the debt. If you cannot pay in full, you will need to contact the enforcement agent to discuss a payment arrangement.
If you do not pay in full or keep to your payment arrangement, your account will be passed to the Enforcement Stage.
The enforcement agent will visit your property to collect the debt outstanding. If the account gets to this stage, a minimum of £235 fees will be added to the account. If you owe more than £1500, the fees will be higher.
If you are unable to pay the debt in full, the enforcement agent will
- make a list of your goods
- make a controlled goods agreement with you
- agree on a payment arrangement to clear the debt within a maximum of 6 months
You should make a payment arrangement with the enforcement agent and provide details of your income and outgoings if asked to do so.
If you are out when the enforcement agents call, they will leave details for you to contact them. You should contact them straightaway to avoid further action being taken.
If you cannot agree on a payment arrangement and do not have enough goods to meet the debt, a report is sent to the council who will decide what further action to take.
Controlled Goods Agreement
This is an agreement which allows you to keep the goods listed by the enforcement agent as long as you keep to the agreed payment arrangement. If you fail this arrangement, you will be given 7 days to bring your payments up to date.
If the enforcement agent has obtained a controlled goods agreement and you fail to keep to your payment arrangement, the enforcement agent will call again and may take away the items listed in the controlled goods agreement
What goods can be taken?
The bailiff can only take goods which belong to you. This does not include:
- fixtures and fittings
- goods on hire purchase
- goods which are rented
- items necessary for use in connection with your employment - 'tools of the trade' if their value is less than £1350
- business necessities
Fees are non-negotiable and the only way to avoid them is to pay the balance in full or to set-up and maintain a payment arrangement.
Where goods are sent to auction, you will be charged more costs and fees.
If you have any complaint to make about the actions of the enforcement agent, complaints can be made directly to the enforcement agent company.