New constraints on bailiffs to be introduced

February 16, 2013

Landlord Information

Finally, after some decades of debate and at times, undignified squabbling, legislation is being introduced to try and regularise the role of the bailiff in England and Wales.

The principle of the position is covered in the associated BBC news report* though some landlords will have noted that considerable detail has yet to be hammered out.

Responsible landlords and indeed bailiffs are welcoming this change, at least insofar as it is currently understood.

Although the scale of the rogue bailiff problem doesn’t seem to be known and much remains anecdotal, it does seem to be generally agreed that it is the actions of only a small and unrepresentative number of unruly or downright discreditable bailiffs that are causing the problem. Yet there does indeed seem to be a problem that requires addressing.

Landlords may well welcome this because, as the report concedes, the existing legal position is chaotic and poorly understood, including by certain authorities that are meant to be trying to enforce it.

Of course, one aspect of the reporting on this is perhaps in danger of puzzling some landlords.  Whilst at the moment there appears to be a significant chorus of calls for banning bailiffs from entering property in a very large number of circumstances, what doesn’t seem to be being covered is the fact that for many, including landlords, the use of bailiffs is an absolute last resort.

Currently, it is frequently only in situations where it has proven to be impossible to recover debt, goods, rent or the vacating of a property through amicable and agreed means, that courts and landlords resort to bailiffs.

If the tenants concerned have already refused to co-operate voluntarily and ignored court orders, then making it harder for bailiffs to do their job and bring matters to a conclusion might result in yet more delays and costs for landlords. That might be a particular concern, given that some landlord insurance quotes and their associated policies typically don’t cover the extended costs associated with legal battles around tenant eviction.

It might be regrettable if the attempt to deal with what may be a small number of unacceptable bailiffs, results in making a landlord’s life even more difficult.

The position is embryonic and much evolution is likely before a new legal framework is defined.  It is to be hoped that some of the above considerations will be fully taken into account and an equitable solution found that balances the rights of tenants and those of landlords appropriately.







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