From 6 April 2014 new regulations will take effect introducing changes to the way bailiffs operate and the arrangements for ‘taking control of goods’. The regulations form part of a package of measures to reform bailiff law and protect people from rogue bailiffs whilst ensuring debts can be collected effectively and fairly.
The main changes are that: bailiffs will become ‘Enforcement Agents’ and will have to go through an enhanced training and certification process; a new fee
structure will be introduced to make sure debtors know what fees may be added to their debt if the case is passed to an Enforcement Agent; and there are changes to the rules on how and when debts can be pursued.
From 6 April debtors will have to pay a £75 fee as soon as the Council passes an unpaid account to an agent to collect. They will also have to pay a further fee of at least £235 if they do not make arrangements to pay and a visit by an agent becomes necessary.
The Council currently uses its own bailiffs and very rarely (mainly when the debtor has left the area) uses private bailiffs. These arrangements will continue: the Council’s bailiffs will become Enforcement Agents and will continue to visit residents and businesses who get into debt. The Council already operates a sensitive policy to pursuing debt and is highly regarded as following best practice.
Council Tax and Business Rate payers who get into difficulties and require free independent advice can contact the following agencies: Wealden CAB; Stepchange; National Debt Line; Business Debtline.
- The Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007,
- The Taking Control of Goods (Certification) Regulations 2014,
- The Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014.