Bailiff visit 'made me feel physically sick and intimidated'

By Imran Rahman-Jones
Newsbeat reporter

image copyrightPaige Causewell

Vulnerable people in debt shouldn't be visited at their homes by bailiffs, according to one charity.

The Money Advice Trust found that bailiffs were used more than two million times last year.

Paige Causewell, 26, lives on her own and was visited by a bailiff for some unpaid council tax earlier this year.

She says she felt "physically sick" and "intimidated" by the experience after she was told her things would be seized if she didn't pay in 24 hours.

"I was in bed - it was about six o'clock in the morning," Paige tells Newsbeat. "I got a knock on the door and I went to answer it."

She says the bailiff "put his foot in the door" and let himself in.

What are your rights?

From the Citizens Advice Bureau

Bailiffs must give you seven days' notice if they're visiting your home.

They can only come into your home between 6am and 9pm.

Bailiffs can only enter through unlocked doors. They can't come through windows or locked doors.

If you're classed as "vulnerable" bailiffs must treat you differently - check if you are vulnerable.

There are some things bailiffs can't take - check what they are.

"He passed me the piece of paper that had how much I owed to him, and said that if I didn't pay by tomorrow, then he would come in and take my stuff."

Paige says that the bailiff then began to take a note of the belongings in her flat.

"He said to me that he'd be taking the TV, my Xbox," she says.

"I was crying my eyes out and he did actually say to me, 'Don't cry, sit down, have five minutes, take it in.'

"But it was more knowing there was a big bloke in my flat and it's just me here.

image copyrightPaige Causewell

"I physically felt sick. Yes, I got myself into that situation and I hold my hands up to fact that it was my own fault [for getting behind on the tax].

"But knowing somebody's come to my house and said to me I'm going to lose my things, it intimidated me."

Paige got in touch with a debt agency, which reassured her that she wouldn't have to give her things up to the bailiffs.

She set up a monthly plan to pay off her debts, which meant that the bailiffs didn't return.

Paige says she understands that she had outstanding tax to pay but says there was no mention in a council letter that a bailiff would knock on her door.

"I think they should have more respect for people - especially somebody vulnerable on their own," she says.

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