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Can a UK bailiff put his foot in the door to a repossess a home?

In the UK, bailiffs (enforcement agents) must adhere to strict rules when attempting to gain entry to a property, including in situations involving the repossession of a home. Here are the key points regarding whether a bailiff can put their foot in the door:

General Rules for Bailiffs

  1. Peaceful Entry:

    • Bailiffs can generally only enter a property through peaceful means. This means they can enter through an open door or window or if they are invited in by the occupant.
  2. Reasonable Force:

    • Bailiffs are allowed to use “reasonable force” to gain entry in specific circumstances, such as to enforce a warrant for unpaid magistrates’ court fines, tax debts to HMRC, or unpaid business rates. However, this usually does not apply to residential repossessions unless a court order specifically allows it.

Specific to Repossession of a Home

  1. Court Orders and Evictions:

    • When it comes to repossessing a home, bailiffs usually need a possession order granted by the court. This is typically executed by County Court bailiffs or High Court enforcement officers, depending on the case.
  2. Procedure for Repossession:

    • Bailiffs must provide notice of the eviction and allow the occupant time to vacate the property. If the occupant refuses to leave, the bailiff can obtain permission from the court to use reasonable force to carry out the eviction.

Putting Foot in the Door

  • Legality:

    • Putting a foot in the door to prevent the occupant from closing it is generally considered improper conduct and can be seen as a form of assault or intimidation. Bailiffs should not engage in this behavior, as it is not considered a legitimate means of gaining entry.
  • Complaints and Redress:

    • If a bailiff puts their foot in the door or uses other forms of inappropriate force, the occupant can file a complaint with the enforcement company, the court that issued the warrant, or relevant regulatory bodies such as the Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) or the High Court Enforcement Officers Association (HCEOA).

Summary

Bailiffs should not put their foot in the door to prevent it from being closed, as this is considered improper and potentially illegal. For home repossessions, bailiffs must follow the correct legal procedures, including obtaining a court order and giving proper notice to the occupants. If reasonable force is required, it must be sanctioned by the court and carried out professionally.

If you experience or witness any improper conduct by a bailiff, you should report it to the appropriate authorities and seek legal advice if necessary.