Both councils and customers are being stitched up by bailiffs
IN A recent ITV exposé on bailiffs, it revealed that there was no mention of current legislation.
Laws governing bailiffs are in place, but are never implemented.
Rossendale's chairman stated in the show: "There are only currently guidelines for bailiffs to operate within and while we have been calling for regulation and legislation for some years, we need action now."
You would hope the head of a firm that enforces collection of council tax debt for around 150 local authorities would know there are, in fact, regulations and legislation in place to protect the public from bailiff malpractice.
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The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations, which are relied upon by councils for instructing bailiffs, has regulations that govern how bailiffs should operate.
The Rent Rules 1988 contains similar legislation and provides a means of redress to submit a complaint to the county court, which issued the bailiff's certificate.
Sections 2 to 4 of the Fraud Act 2006 provides more than adequate legislation needed to protect the public from any malpractice with bailiffs.
Similarly, the Data Protection Act 1998 is in place to protect the public against breaches of confidentiality.
So, the problem is not so much a lack of regulations and legislation, rather the authorities would prefer to turn a blind eye and pretend it doesn't exist. An enforcement firm will inevitably attract the more enthusiastic applicant when payment is proportionate to the number of contacts made with their "customers", as Rossendales refer to them.
It can therefore be expected that bailiffs will want to exceed targets by visiting, or at least on paper, the highest number of "customers" in the shortest possible time to maximise their fees.
Offering bailiffs incentives for unlimited earnings is clearly a means of exploiting greed.
They are, of course, playing the system and the rhyming up of fees, to the bailiff firm, has more importance than securing debt owed to councils.
Local authorities must have cottoned on to this and I wonder if they are impressed that not only are "customers" getting stitched up by these private enforcement firms, but also councils themselves.
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