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At a glance: You have a right to complain if you feel a bailiff has treated you badly.
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This summary covers England and Wales
To view information that covers Scotland, please click here.

What is a bailiff?

A bailiff can be employed by a creditor to try to remove things you own. Those things may then be sold to raise money to pay what you owe. Bailiffs are also known as enforcement agents.  

Private bailiffs

This information is about private bailiffs. It does not apply to complaining about county court bailiffs or high court bailiffs. If you have a complaint about a county court bailiff or high court bailiff, contact us for advice. 

What can bailiffs do?

The government has guidelines for bailiffs describing how they are expected to behave. They are not legally binding. This means that if a bailiff breaks the guidelines, they are not breaking the law. However, because the guidelines describe how bailiffs should behave, they are useful to mention when making a complaint. 

You can view a copy of the guidelines on www.gov.uk or contact us for advice.  

Complaining about private bailiffs

If you are unhappy with the way a bailiff has treated you, you have a right to complain. This does not always mean you will be successful.   

These are examples of things that you could complain about: 

  • Bailiffs being threatening or aggressive. 
  • Bailiffs telling you that they have the power to do things when they do not. 
  • Bailiffs charging you more in fees than the law allows. 
  • Bailiffs giving you unclear or misleading information about your rights. 
  • Bailiffs not taking your circumstances into account when talking with you. 
  • Bailiffs trying to take goods that do not belong to you. 
  • Bailiffs trying to take goods that the law says they shouldn’t take.  

Get advice before complaining

Bailiff law is very complex. Even if you think what the bailiffs have done is unfair, they may still be acting within the law. Think carefully before you complain about a bailiff. You can be asked to pay costs in some situations if the complaint is not successful. Contact us for advice first. 

Taking Control campaign

Taking Control is a campaign raising concerns over the problems people have had with bailiffs. Share your experience with bailiffs anonymously on www.bailiffreform.org by filling in a simple form. We will share these stories with Ministers and MPs and ask them to look at reforming the rules on what bailiffs can do. 

Learn more about this topic

If you want to learn more about this topic, you can read our in-depth guide.

Read in-depth-guide

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