Bailiffs will be banned from entering homes at night or when there are only children present under new laws proposed by the government today. The Ministry of Justice will also bring in set costs and remove bailiffs’ right to fix their own fees.
The new laws, which will be added to the Crime and Courts Bill, follow a consultation last year on the industry.
Bailiffs will have to undergo mandatory training and a certification scheme, and could be barred if they do not follow the rules.
Justice minister Helen Grant (pictured) said: ‘For too long bailiffs have gone unregulated, allowing a small minority to give the industry a bad name. Too many people in debt have had the additional stress of dealing with aggressive bailiffs who often charge extortionate fees.
‘These new laws will clean up the industry and ensure bailiffs play by the rules or face being prevented from practising. They will also make sure businesses and public bodies can collect their debts fairly.’
Under the new legislation, bailiffs will be allowed to visit debtors only between 6am and 9pm.
Landlords will be banned from using bailiffs to seize property for residential arrears without going to court. Bailiffs will also be trained to recognise vulnerable people, and ensure they get assistance and advice.
The changes will be made by enacting parts of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, and creating new laws through the Crime and Courts Bill, currently in committee stage in parliament.
James Batham, real estate expert at global law firm Eversheds, said: ‘Commercial landlords and tenants should take note that hidden within the government’s pledge today to shake up bailiff regulation is confirmation that the long-anticipated new procedure for commercial rent arrears recovery (CRAR) will definitely be coming into force.
‘The government’s drive to change debt enforcement means that they will be commencing Part 3 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, which introduces the CRAR system in place of the ancient common law of distress for rent arrears.
‘This is likely to be welcomed by tenants, who will benefit from a 14 day warning before the bailiff turns up at the door, but will be met with less enthusiasm by landlords who face a longer, more costly process.’