Check what fees bailiffs can charge
Bailiffs (also called 'enforcement agents') can charge fees for collecting your debt. They can charge you for writing to you and visiting you, as well as some of their expenses, for example court fees.
They have to give you a written bill telling you how much your fees are. You’II get your bill when you arrange to pay your debt or after your belongings are sold if you can’t pay.
You should check your bill carefully to make sure it’s correct.
There are rules about what the bailiffs can charge you fees for. If they break the rules you can complain.
Don’t ignore your fees, if you do this could make your situation worse because more charges could be added. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you can’t pay your fees.
Before you pay any fees, check the extra rules bailiffs should follow if you:
- are disabled or seriously ill
- have mental health problems
- have children or are pregnant
- are under 18 or over 65
- don’t speak or read English well
- are in a stressful situation like recent bereavement or unemployment
The bailiffs might have to let you get advice before charging you any fees - if they don't you could complain.
You can’t be charged fees if you prove the debt isn’t yours or the bailiffs can’t collect the debt. For example, if they decide you have nothing they can sell they might return your case back to the creditor - this is the person you owe the money to.
If bailiffs are trying to evict you from your home, fees work differently. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice to check what fees you have to pay if you’re being evicted.
Check if the fees are right on your bill
The fees you're charged depend on the kind of bailiffs you're dealing with - if they’re from the High Court you’II have to pay more.
You can check if High Court bailiffs are collecting your debt by looking at any letters the bailiffs have sent you. The bailiffs also have to say if they're from the High Court when they visit you.
If your debt isn’t being collected by High Court bailiffs
The bailiffs have to follow a 3-stage process - they can charge you a fixed fee for each stage.
If your debt is over £1,500 they’re also allowed to charge you an extra fee. The fee is only charged on the amount of debt over £1,500 rather than your full debt.
|Stage of process||Fixed fee||Percentage extra you'II pay for debts over £1,500|
Writing to you about your debt (called ‘compliance’)
|Visiting your home (called ‘enforcement’)||£235||7.5%|
Taking and selling your belongings (called 'sale')
For example, if your debt is £2,500 you would be charged 7.5% on £1,000. This means you would pay an extra fee of £75.
If High Court bailiffs are collecting your debt
The bailiffs have to follow a 4-stage process and 2 of them are visits - they can charge you a fixed fee for each stage.
If you don’t agree to pay your debt quickly you’II be charged for more stages in the process.
For example, if you make a controlled goods agreement when the bailiffs first visit, you should only be charged the first enforcement fee. If you don’t make an agreement or don’t keep to the agreement you made the bailiffs can revisit and charge the enforcement 2 fee.
If your debt is more than £1,000 the bailiffs are also allowed to charge you an extra fee. The fee is only charged on the amount of debt over £1,000 rather than your full debt.
|Stage of process||Fixed fee||Percentage extra you’II pay for debts over £1,000|
Writing to you about your debt (called ‘compliance’)
|Visiting your home (called ‘enforcement 1’)||£190||7.5 %|
|Visiting your home again (called ‘enforcement 2’)||£495||None|
|Taking and selling your belongings (called 'sale')||£525||7.5 %|
For example, if your debt is £3,000 you would be charged 7.5% on £2,000. This means you would pay an extra fee of £150.
If you’ve got more than one debt
If a bailiff is collecting more than one debt they can charge the £75 compliance fee for writing to you for each debt. But they can’t charge you more than one fee for visiting you or taking your belongings.
If you have debts with different bailiff companies
You’II be charged separate fees by each company.
For example, if one bailiff company visited you to collect a council tax debt and another to collect payment for a loan debt you would pay each company:
a compliance fee for writing to you about the debt
an enforcement fee for visiting your home
Check the other costs on your bill
You might have to pay the bailiffs some of their expenses. On your bill these might be called 'disbursement costs'.
You can only be charged for the cost of:
- storing your belongings after they're removed
- a locksmith if the bailiffs were allowed to use force to enter your home
- court fees if the bailiffs had to apply to court to deal with your case
- selling your belongings - including advertising the sale and auctioneer's fees
- an online auction for selling your belongings - you can be charged up to 7.5% of any money made through the sale
The bailiffs must charge you the amount these services normally cost.
You can check if the costs are reasonable by getting quotes for similar services.
If you're charged for court fees you can check if the fee is correct on the Court Service website on GOV.UK.
Occasionally bailiffs can charge for other things but they have to get a court order for the costs.
Get a receipt for any charges the bailiffs tell you to pay. A receipt can help you later if you have to prove you paid or if you want to challenge how much you had to pay.
Complaining about your bill
You can complain by writing to your creditor - this is the person or organisation you owe the money to.
Ask your creditor to either get the bailiffs to cancel the fees or return your money if you’ve already paid.
You can complain for example if:
- you've been charged the wrong fixed fees
- the percentage fee for any stage is wrong
- you've been charged for something the bailiffs haven't done
- you think you've been charged too much for the bailiffs' expenses or they haven't given you a receipt for these costs
You can also complain if the bailiffs charged you fees even though they weren’t allowed to because of something they did wrong - for example if they lost their licence.
If complaining doesn't help
You can apply to court for a judge to decide if the bailiffs can charge you the fees.
Think carefully if it's worth applying to court especially if the fees you're complaining about are low. Going to court might cost you more than your fees.
Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you're considering court action - an adviser can discuss your options with you.