What powers do HCEOs have to enter a premises?

There are many stories surrounding High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs), often known as bailiffs, surrounding what they can and cannot do. HCEOs work for the courts and have clear rules about what they can and cannot do. Here is an overview of what powers they have to enter a premises.

Why HCEOs might visit

HCEOs are authorised by the government in addition to the normal training that a CEO receives. They follow the National Standards for enforcement officers and are responsible for enforcing Writs of Execution issued by the High Court. This involves removing and selling possessions in order to pay money that a person or business owes and can extend in some cases to conducting evictions and even arresting people.

There are six main Writs that can be issued and HCEOs enforce:

  • Writ of Control – recovering money owed including the seizure of goods
  • Writ of Possession – recovering land after an Order of Possession has been issued
  • Writ of Assistance – helping with a Writ of Possession
  • Writ of Restitution – dealing with re-occupied land following a Writ of Possession
  • Writ of Control and Possession – recovering both money and land
  • Writ of Delivery – recovering a specific asset

Entering properties

One of the biggest concerns that people have is that an HCEO can force their way into their home. In the majority of cases, HCEOs cannot force entry into a person’s home and must be invited in. The only exceptions to this is if they are chasing an unpaid magistrates court fine, or if they have been given a court order allowing them to use reasonable force to enter the property to collect debts owed to HM Revenue and Customs.

Gaining access

Reasonable force means that they can only enter the property through normal means of entry – this is commonly a door, a garage or a loading bay. This means they can force open a door by breaking hinges or a lock or force a gate open. They can cut through chains or a padlock on a door, gate or loading bay and can break through a vehicle barrier.

HCEOs are not permitted to get into a property through an open window or break a window to gain access nor are they allowed to climb a wall or fence or take up floorboards to gain access. They must not push you or anyone else out of the way to get into a property.

Using the right people

If you need the services of an enforcement agency in Bristol, you should always use a qualified and accredited company to ensure everything is done within the laws and to protect yourself. Able Investigations can assist with these matters so call us on 0345 366 0000 to discuss your situation today.

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