Lisa Barwell, chief officer for South Holland Citizens Advice Bureau, writes about bailiffs this month.
South Holland Citizens Advice Bureau has welcomed new rules aimed at protecting people from unfair treatment by bailiffs, and urged bailiffs to seize the chance to clean up their act.
Citizens Advice evidence shows that some bailiffs are aggressive, threaten to seize items they are not allowed to take and even charge people for visits they have never made.
Now, the Ministry of Justice has introduced clearer new rules to clamp down on bailiffs who have been getting around the law.
The new rules, which came into force on April 6, introduce clearer fees and ban bailiffs from giving enforcement letters to children or visiting people at night.
However, South Holland Citizens Advice Bureau has warned that the new rules may not go far enough to protect consumers, as bailiff firms will still not be held responsible for the way their staff behave.
Lisa Barwell, chief officer of South Holland Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “Lawless bailiffs flout the rules, intimidate people and inflate debts. New rules to stop bailiffs from calling round in the dead of night or giving letters to children are welcome, and show just how out of control the industry has become.
“Every month, South Holland Citizens Advice Bureau helps people with bailiff problems. We see people who have seen their debts balloon because of sky-high fees.
“We’ll be watching closely to see whether bailiffs clean up their act and obey the new rules.”
The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
Advice is also available online at www.adviceguide.org.uk or from the consumer service on 08454 040506.
South Holland Citizens Advice Bureau, Council Offices, Priory Road, Spalding, PE11 2XE
Spalding opening times: Monday to Wednesday 10am to 4pm, Thursday and Friday 10am to 1pm
Holbeach: Wednesday 10am to 12.30 drop in for 15-minute assessments prior to being offered an appointment; Friday 10am to 1pm for appointments only.
Long Sutton: Monday 10am to 12.30pm drop in for 15-minute assessments prior to being offered an appointment; Thursday 10am to 1pm appointments only.
Sutton Bridge: First Tuesday of month 10am to 1pm for drop in and 1pm to 3pm for appointments.