The Government has proposed changes to the regulations of bailiffs, meaning that they will no longer be able to visit properties late at night to take debts, and will have tighter regulations regarding the type of property that they can seize.
Additionally, bailiffs will no longer be permitted to enter a property if just children are present, and they will not be able to set their own fees. Some landlords are worried about one of the new rules: that they will have to alert their tenants seven days before sending bailiffs.
The new plans will give tenants an opportunity to pay their debts before bailiffs arrive, says a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice. They say: “If the landlord believes the debtor is likely to avoid enforcement, for a small fee, they can apply to the court to reduce or waive this notice period.
“Commercial landlords will now have to serve a notice of enforcement on the tenant, giving the tenant the benefit of seven day warning before bailiffs can turn up.
“The short, sharp shock of distress will therefore be lost and will enable tenants to remove goods from the property. The court can reduce the period of notice if there is concern that the tenant will avoid enforcement if given too much notice, but this will increase the landlord’s legal costs.
“In the current distressed market, these changes will force commercial landlords to consider more expensive routes of recovery such as litigation or insolvency.”1
Normally, a landlord can call bailiffs if their tenant constantly does not pay rent, to collect possessions as payment. The new rules may allow tenants to hide their possessions before bailiffs arrive, however. This would leave landlords without income if they do not have rent guarantee insurance.
Leeds law firm Clarion’s’ Paul Burkinshaw says: “One of the primary concerns is that the tenant may take steps to dispose of stocks that the landlord is aware exist during that period of notice, so preventing seizure of the same.
“In the draft regulation, mechanisms did exist for steps to be taken more quickly, however this would simply add cost to the landlord who is already inappropriately out of pocket.”1