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. 

 

When they can… 

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, installing a pre-pay gas or electric meter, enforcing commercial debt at a commercial premises, there is unpaid business rates at a commercial premises or there is money owed to HMRC. 

In these circumstances the bailiff is allowed to use ‘reasonable force’, this doesn’t mean he can kick the door down, 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 

 

When they can’t… 

bailiff cannot enter your home with a locksmith if they are recovering; Council Tax, Parking Tickets, Traffic debts, High Court Writs, County Court judgments or 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. You also 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 make arrangements to pay the debt back. 

A bailiff may say that you have to pay them right then and there, this is not true. They also might tell you that you have to let them in, you definitely do not. 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.  

If a locksmith forces entry into your house 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 in to 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, then 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. To learn more about your rights and the role of bailiffs then please visit Citizens Advice. 

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