Bailiffs, Enforcement Agents, High Court Enforcement Officers, Sheriffs…are you confused about their different roles and powers?
Every landlord should understand what each of these professionals do and when they need to call on their services.
Here’s our handy guide to why Enforcement Agents can be so useful for landlords.
What do Enforcement Agents do?
Enforcement Agents are qualified, experienced people who understand property law and understand the rights of landlords and tenants.
They are certified by a County Court judge and they can enforce rent arrears, council tax arrears, business rates arrears, parking fines, and child maintenance payment arrears.
They work under the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, along with the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 plus the Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014.
They can also:
- Advise landlords on the correct methods of eviction.
- Act as the landlord’s spokesperson in conversations with tenants.
- Relay information about tenants to landlords.
- Help to ensure possession orders are enforced within the law.
- Act as officers of the High Court – in other words they become sheriffs of the court enforcing its orders.
When a tenants refuses to comply with an eviction order and fails to vacate a property, the law requires that landlords use Enforcement Agents to resolve the situation.
What’s the difference between a County Court bailiff and a High Court Enforcement Officer?
A County Court bailiff collects debts on behalf of a debtor or the plaintiff in a County Court and carries out the orders of this court.
They can list goods and have them removed in lieu of unpaid debts and they are able to recover costs. They are employed directly by the court.
A High Court Enforcement Officer collects debts on behalf of the High Court.
That means he or she has greater powers as the High Court is a higher legal entity. High Court Enforcement Officers have writs of control which allow them to seize assets if no payment plan is agreed to or payment isn’t made. They have the right to access premises without being invited onto the site and can force entry to business premises if no one lives there.
High Court Enforcement Officers are privately employed and are also often paid on results.
They work under the High Court Enforcement Officer Regulations 2004 and The High Court Enforcement Officers Association’s Code of Practice and Professional Conduct.
All High Court Enforcement Officers must belong to this professional body.
You can find out more here.
What is the possession order enforcement process?
Once your possession order has been granted in a County Court and your tenant refuses to leave, you can apply for the order to be transferred to the High Court for enforcement proceedings.
Once that High Court order is granted, the Enforcement Agents are instructed and they attend the property to evict your tenant.
This usually takes between seven and 10 days.
Why should landlords take a step back then?
It’s so easy for a landlord to fall foul of the law themselves in this situation.
For example, did you know that even if a residential possession order has been granted, it’s still illegal for a landlord to change the locks?
Enforcement Agents bring legal expertise and are adept at handling different people and different situations.
Having someone outside the landlord-tenant relationship can also help take the heat out of situations.
Tenants can feel very angry with their landlords but enforcement agents are merely doing their jobs.
Enforcement Agents are used to defusing situations which could otherwise lead to a landlord being attacked.