Can Bailiffs Force Entry?

We get a lot of questions about bailiffs but easily one of the most frequently asked one is this - “can bailiffs force entry”?

If your debt problems are escalating then you might be facing creditors actions including a visit from a bailiff. 


A bailiff, or enforcement officer, works on behalf of the courts to collect debts.  With legal backing, you might be worried that a bailiff assigned to your case could force their way into your home or place of business in order to take your belongings. 


It’s a common worry and while some people know that you don’t have to open the door or let bailiffs in, what about them? 


The rule is that while they can force entry, it is only under certain circumstances and depends on the type of debt they are looking to enforce and whether they have visited the location before. 


Bailiffs CAN force entry if:-

  • they’re enforcing an unpaid magistrates’ court fine
  • they’re enforcing an unpaid county court judgement (CCJ) or a high court judgement.
  • a court has specifically given them the right to do so when collecting debts owed to HMRC.
  • a court has specifically given them the right to do so, because they believe you have deliberately taken your belongings to stop them getting seized.


If your debt issue isn’t included above then good news – bailiffs are not allowed to force entry. 


We’ll also point out that even if they have legal permission to enter a premises, they’re only allowed to use “reasonable force” to do so.


What is reasonable force?


Bailiffs are only allowed to use a normal means of entry, like a door or entry through an attached garage. 


They have to give at least seven days notice ahead of their first visit, while they’re not allowed to visit between the hours of 9pm and 6am (unless these are your regular business hours).


Reasonable force means that while they are allowed to break locks or hinges, cut through padlocks or remove barriers, they’re not allowed to touch you or anyone else or to get into a building through an open window, break a window or climb over a fence or wall to do so


What can you do to stop the bailiffs?


If you’ve been notified that bailiffs are visiting or you suspect that they might be coming imminently then you should get some immediate advice. 


These situations are less stressful and intimidating than the thought of them and there’s a chance you can stop any visit by taking quick action in advance. 


Get in touch with us today and bailifffs might never have to visit you.