Can Bailiffs Force Entry with a Locksmith?

Can Bailiffs Force Entry with a Locksmith?

The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. There are times when a bailiff is allowed to force entry with a Locksmith, however there are also times when they are not. We will go through when this is allowed and when it is not.

Before discussing anything with a bailiff make sure you know your rights and check their identity. You can do this by checking their ID or depending on what kind of bailiff they say they are you can check the register of Certified bailiffs, the list of High Court Enforcement Officers or if the court sent them.

It’s best to try and come to an agreement before your lender needs to call a bailiff come to your home. Try to get support or apply for Breathing Space if you’re eligible, also consider setting up a Debt Management Plan.

hand opening door with key

When Can Bailiffs Force Entry

A bailiff can enter your home using a Locksmith under the following circumstances:

  • They are executing a warrant or writ of possession to evict tenants or squatters
  • They are installing a pre-pay gas or electric meter
  • They are enforcing commercial debt at a commercial premises
  • There are unpaid business rates at a commercial premises
  • There is money owed to HMRC

Bailiffs Right of Entry

In these circumstances the bailiff is allowed to use ‘reasonable force’, this doesn’t mean he can kick the door down, but it normally means he will go away and get a Locksmith. However, before this can happen, the bailiff will need to show you proof of who they are. This can be in the form of a warrant, or a document called a ‘writ’ from the court. You need to make sure that all documents are signed and in date and they be sure they have your correct name and address. If they do not have all the information correct, the writ could be invalid. Forcing entry into your home should be a last resort for any bailiff, you should be given time to make an offer to pay the debt.

If you are still unsure if a bailiff should be entering your home forcibly, then phoning citizens advice would be highly recommended. Even if the bailiff is allowed to forcibly enter your home, they are not allowed to use any force against you.

Bailiffs Evicting a Tenant

If a bailiff is evicting a tenant from a property, then they must first give the tenant 2 weeks’ notice of the eviction date. The county court bailiffs come between 9am-5pm and High Court Enforcement Officers cannot come before 6am or after 9pm, and they will ask you to leave if you are still at the property. They will not give you time to pack your things, but your possessions are protected for a reasonable amount of time unless the court order states otherwise. Contact Shelter for advice if you get an eviction notice from the bailiffs.


When Can’t Bailiffs Force Entry

A bailiff cannot enter your home with a locksmith if they are recovering:

  • Council Tax
  • Parking Tickets
  • Traffic debts
  • High Court Writs
  • County Court judgments
  • Bailiffs’ fees

You have every right to keep the bailiff outside your property and talk to them through a closed door, or over the phone.

Get a Total Breakdown

You have the right to demand a full breakdown of what debt they are collecting and who the ‘creditor’ is. The creditor is the person or company they say you owe money to. The bailiff can pass any documents through your letterbox or under the door. If it is your debt, you can ask the bailiffs to leave and you say you’ll speak to their head office to arrange to pay the debt back.

Don’t Let Bailiffs Inside

A bailiff may say that you must pay them right then and there, but this is not true. They also might tell you that you must let them in, you definitely don’t. They are not allowed to force their way in, with or without a locksmith. Most of the time a bailiff will leave if you don’t allow them in, but they will come back if you don’t make arrangements to pay your debt. Its advantageous for you to get them to leave as quickly as possible, as you may have to pay a fee for their time. If the bailiff doesn’t leave after being asked to repeatedly and you feel you are being harassed, then you may be able to complain.


Can Bailiffs Use Locksmiths

If a Locksmith forces entry into your home when they do not have the legal right to, they could be charged with breaking and entering. However, bailiffs cannot be charged with burglary, even if they are in breach of enforcement regulations.

But it’s good to know that if a bailiff uses a Locksmith to break into any premises, he may be guilty of the theft of the lock and criminal damage (even if the lock is replaced with a new one).


If you believe a bailiff is entering your property without the right writ, we advise you call Citizens Advice and if you feel threatened then you should call the police. Remember, any Locksmith that attends your property is there at the request of the bailiff and are not responsible for the actions of the bailiffs.

For more advice about home security then please look at our Advice Page.


Frequently Asked Questions

Bailiffs can change your locks only if they have a warrant or a writ from the court stating that they have permission to do this.

A bailiff cannot break into your house. If they enter your house they need to do so with your permission, peacefully and through the normal entrance, such as the front door.

Bailiffs can come to your house anytime between 6am –  9pm but typically they will visit between 9am – 5pm. They CANNOT visit between the hours of 9pm and 6am.