Five rules bailiffs have to follow when they visit homes after ban lifts on Monday

Five rules bailiffs have to follow when they visit homes after ban lifts on Monday

BAILIFFS will be able to knock on people's doors again tomorrow after the coronavirus outbreak temporarily banned visits.

Emergency laws introduced in England and Wales in April put a stop to home visits from bailiffs over fears they wouldn't follow social distancing rules.

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Now they've been lifted after lockdown was slowly eased over the past two months.

As of Monday, they'll be able to approach debtors' homes over repayments for fines, traffic offences, unpaid council tax and other outstanding penalties.

The guidance has been published by the Ministry of Justice outlines that goods can still be seized during the pandemic.

But the procedure of bailiffs coming to visit people's homes is now different from before – and there are several rules that they must follow.

1. Bailiffs must socially distance

Enforcement officers have to make"every reasonable effort to maintain social distancing", so two metres or one metre apart where two metres isn't possible, during their visits.

They also need to assess the risks of going into the property they're visiting and work out a way to make the visit in the most socially-distant way possible.

This will include:

• Maintain social distancing as far as possible, including use of appropriate PPE
• Minimise contact with other householders
• Minimise physical contact with surfaces and objects by the enforcement agent, so asking the householder to leave doors open where necessary
• Keep interactions to well-ventilated areas where possible
• Wash or disinfect their hands regularly

2. Leave if someone breaks social distancing or appears to have coronavirus

If someone "deliberately" attempts to breach social distancing or endangers the safety of themselves or the bailiff during the visit, the bailiff has to leave, under the new guidance.

They also should report it to the police, if it's appropriate to do so, but they will also keep a record of it.

3. They can't shout or raise their voices

Just like when pubs reopened and banning singing and shouting was discussed by Whitehall sources, bailiffs have to avoid raising their voices during the visit as this spreads coronavirus.

Instead they have to speak in normal tones while maintaining social distancing.

Debt collectors: Know your rights

BAILIFFS are allowed to visit debtors' homes again from Monday August 24, 2020, following a temporary ban due to coronavirus.

Here are your rights, according to Citizens Advice:

  • All bailiffs should send you a letter before they visit to check if you're vulnerable because of Covid-19.
  • They should give you at least 30 days' notice if they are collecting debts owed to your council, court fines or child maintenance.
  • They're not allowed to enter your home to take goods – they should only talk to you, collect money or give you documents.
  • They must make sure they are social distancing.
  • If you're vulnerable or in financial hardship caused by the pandemic they must refer you to debt advisers.

If you think debt collectors have broken the rules, or acted aggressively by issuing threats, intimidation, offensive language, or repeatedly visiting, texting or calling you then you should complain to the organisation you owe money to.

Lorraine Charlton, debt expert at Citizens Advice, said: "Complaining won’t cancel your original debt, but it can give you a chance to deal with it in a way that suits you."

4. People need to be contacted before they're visited at home

The Ministry of Justice has said that bailiffs have to try and contact people before visiting their homes to minimise the risk of Covid-19 and so that they carry out the visit safely.

This can either be on the phone, a text message, a letter or by email.

They'll ask if anyone is self isolating or has got Covid-19 symptoms, and if so, they will return at a later date.

If they arrive and find someone is displaying Covid-19 symptoms, they will leave and return at a later date.

5. Bailiffs need to wear PPE

Like going on public transport, bailiffs need to wear a face mask during visits, especially where social distancing will be difficult.

They could be wearing some or all of the items below:

• Fluid repellent surgical face masks
• Eye protection (such as face visor or goggles)
• Disposable gloves

They also always need to have hand sanitiser with them at all times and try not to touch any surfaces.

Once the visit is finished, they need to dispose of their PPE and also wash or sanitise their hands.

Face masks and gloves need to be removed, put into a sealed bag and then binned.

But eye goggles can be reused.

OAPs who refuse to pay BBC licence fee may face bailiffs, it's been revealed.

Meanwhile the eviction ban for renters has been extended by four weeks as thousands face losing their homes.

And we've got advice about how you can get out of debt in eight simple steps.

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