Enforcement agent (formerly known as bailiffs) - role and fees

From 6 April 2014, we can instruct an enforcement agent to collect outstanding council tax and business rates debt from you if a liability order has been issued in your name.

We will do this either if you have not made, or not kept to an agreed repayment plan, or you have not completed and returned the personal information form sent to you.

The enforcement agent will contact you to arrange payment either in full or by installments. You must answer their letters, emails or calls and arrange payment.

If your debt has been passed to an enforcement agent you will incur a fixed fee of £75 for each liability order when they issue a letter to you by post.

Any payments or offers of repayment should then be made to the enforcement agent and not the council.

Enforcement visit

Enforcement agents will visit if you:

  • do not arrange to pay the enforcement agents or
  • arrange to make payment and then don't.

If they visit there is a fixed fee of £235 plus 7.5% for any balance due above £1500.

The enforcement agent will normally ask you for payment in full. If you can't, the agent will normally make a repayment arrangement with you. The agent may then start a Controlled Goods Agreement, where they make a list of your possessions that is equal in value to your debt.

If your possessions are subject to a Controlled Goods Agreement you cannot dispose or sell them without the enforcement agent’s permission.

If you do not sign the Controlled Goods Agreement the enforcement agent can take your goods whilst he is at your property. There will be an additional cost of £110 plus 7.5% for any balance due above £1500 if goods have to be removed and sold.

If you don't pay as agreed and you have signed a Controlled Goods Agreement, the enforcement agent may enter your property, to take the goods listed.

Can enforcement agents force entry?

Enforcement agents have the right to come into your property to remove goods as long as they do not use force to get in. They are not allowed to break open a door but may go in if a door is open, or if it is closed but can be opened without using force. Once they have entered a property they can force doors inside that are locked.

They may force entry if you have given them permission to do so.

The goods that can be taken

There are goods that the agents can't take. These exempt goods are listed on page 3 of the 'Taking control of goods regulations 2013' document.

The agents can take goods that you own, but can't remove essential items which are listed in the legislation and you can keep your goods if you either:

  • pay the debt including all costs before goods are removed or sold
  • sign an agreement for the enforcement agent to stay in the property until you have paid your debt
  • sign an agreement that holds the goods so the enforcement agent can leave the property and return at a later date if you do not pay the debt as agreed.

If you have signed an agreement the enforcement agent may return to remove goods. You do not have to be there. He will return with an appropriate vehicle and remove any of your furniture or belongings. These goods will be placed in secure storage before being sold at public auction.

What happens if the enforcement agent can't collect the money owed

If the enforcement agent can’t collect what you owe and there are not enough goods to take to cover the amount owed, we may:

  • commence insolvency proceedings through the County Court to make you bankrupt
  • apply to the County Court for a charging order on your property that allows us to force its sale or repay your council tax out of the proceeds of any future sale. This will also result in you paying additional fees
  • as a last resort, we may apply for a warrant of commitment to send you to prison - this means you will have to attend court to explain your financial circumstances and reasons why you have not paid. If you do not go to court you will be arrested and brought to court. If you are found guilty, you could face a prison sentence of up to 90 days

Enforcement agents

Our partner arvato has an agreement with four enforcement agent companies:

Enforcement agents are covered by law and should not act illegally. If you feel they have done something wrong, you should first contact the enforcement agent directly.