Can a bailiff add charges to the debt?

Summary: This article explains for what a bailiff may reasonably charge as well as what to look out for if in any doubt.

Bailiffs work on behalf of individuals attempting to reclaim money owed to them. They must be licensed and have a Warrant of execution obtained by the court. If they do not have this, or any identification, then they should not be let into a property under any circumstances as they could be acting illegally. Even bailiffs acting legally, however, will still add fees to the total amount they are attempting to reclaim, and they are quite justified to do so.

What may a bailiff charge for?

As a rule of thumb, a bailiff may make a reasonable charge for any action they take, including:

• Any letters they send the individual • Visiting the individuals property • Costs to transport and store goods seized • Any costs associated with selling the goods, including advertising costs. • Costs for valuation, if asked for by the individual

How much can a bailiff charge?

Bailiffs are allowed to charge a reasonable fee for their services. They should confirm in writing to the individual any and all charges they are making with a breakdown of the costs. It is important to check this breakdown carefully to ensure it is correct. If there are charges for letters that have not been received, visits that have not been carried out, duplicate items or charges for vehicles when items have not been removed, it is worth questioning it. (Please be ware that council tax bailiffs are allowed to charge for a vehicle even if they do not seize goods).

How do I know if the charges are fair?

The general charges that bailiffs can make are set out in law, so if there is anything on the charge list that is not covered above, it is important to question it. Furthermore, if the charges are higher than the debt itself, then it is important to establish why. Some bailiffs may also try to charge for a 'Walking Possession Agreement' posted through the door of the property without having actually been inside. This is not allowed under any circumstances.

For further advice over bailiffs and their charges, a good source of information is the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).