Generally you do not have to let a bailiff into your home.
Generally speaking a bailiff cannot force entry into your home. However, there are certain situations where they can use force to gain entry.
If the bailiff is collecting an unpaid criminal fine they can force entry into your home to seize goods in order to pay the debt. You may be given a criminal fine for a motoring offense, being drunk and disorderly or for causing criminal damage. These fines come from courts or magistrates courts and must be paid.
If the bailiff is collecting income tax or stamp duty they are also allowed to force entry into your home. Income tax bills are calculated and issued by HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs).
My right to refuse entry
Unless the bailiff is collecting the types of debts detailed above, you do not have to let a bailiff into your home or business. If you choose to open the door to a bailiff, they are not allowed to push past you or wedge their foot in the door either.
There are also rules governing when a bailiff can and cannot enter your home.
A bailiff must not enter your home if there are no over 16 year olds in the house. They must also not enter your home if only vulnerable people are present. Read more about vulnerable people and bailiffs.
A bailiff must only visit you between the hours of 6am and 9pm and must not try to gain access via anything but a door. That means a bailiff is not allowed to try to gain entry via a window or cat flap.
For further reading on the rules governing bailiffs see the bailiff rules page.
Tips for stopping the bailiff getting in.
The bailiff will want to get inside your home. Once they have been allowed into the home once they have a legal right to re-enter at any time. Once the bailiff is inside your house they also have a legal right to take control of your belongings.
Lock doors and windows
The bailiff is not allowed to gain entry by any means other than a door. Sometimes bailiffs act illegally and do try to get into your house via a garden window. They are not allowed to do this.
For security and peace of mind, lock all the windows and doors if you know a bailiff is coming.
Make sure everyone knows the rules
If there are children aged under 16 in your house make sure they know that bailiffs are not allowed into your home if only they are there. If a child does answer the door to a bailiff the bailiff needs to be told that there are no adults in the house. The bailiff must then leave.
Do not open the door
Bailiffs are not allowed to push past you or wedge their foot in the door. However, it is easier for you and less intimidating if you do not open the door. The bailiff may use persuasive language to encourage you to open the door and let them in but you are well within your rights not to let the bailiff in.
Use a window or letter box to communicate
Further protect yourself by only communicating with the bailiff through a window or letter box. You can ask to see their identification and certificates as well as details of the debt they are collecting for.
If you do need to speak to the bailiff this is a perfectly acceptable way to talk to them. If you do not have a letter box or cannot use a window try leaving your home, locking the door behind you and speaking to the bailiff outside.
Will I be liable for bailiff fees if I refuse access?
Bailiffs charge fees at different stages in the bailiff process. They are only allowed to charge you once for each stage.
As a rule you should not be charged any more in bailiff fees if the bailiff has to visit your home more than once because you refused them entry, however, they may be able to charge you expenses. See more on Bailiff Fees.
If you don't let the bailiff into your home they may start to take control of your belongings that are not inside your home. These could include a car or garden furniture for example.
The bailiff has already been inside my home once, can I stop them again?
Once a bailiff has been inside your home once they are able to use force to gain entry again. Bailiffs sometimes try to trick you into letting them in saying they just want to discuss the debt or to use your toilet. Once a bailiff has been into your home they are legally allowed to take control of your belongings and use force to enter your home again in the future.