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Bailiff Warrant to force entry & fit prepayent meters searched house and injured animal


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Advice needed please,

 

My disabled aunt is a tenant and has a genuine dispute with gas and electric supplier over previous tenants bill being added to hers (she's only been there 6 months).

 

Despite this and without any warning a bailiff turned up with a warrant to force entry and fit prepayment meters while my aunt was out.

 

This they did but

 

during the process not only has the house been searched, and internal door (unlocked) damaged, things moved, drawers opened and letters removed from envelopes,

her dog was 'subdued' by a dog handler? and is now seriously ill at the vets possible overdose of what ever was administered.

 

No warrant was left and the key does not work properly.

 

Her neighbour who was present asked to see the warrant and the bailiff refused to let her see it because she was on the phone to my aunt

and claimed he had not forced entry but had used a key.

 

I would like to know exactly what a warrant allows

 

1 is it a case that they can enter and fit meters and no more ie exactly what is written in the warrant.

 

or

 

2 does it mean that they can force entry, fit meters and have a good look round remove items search drawers while a small dog is restrained and doped to the point that it is unconcious.

 

Do bailiffs now carry 'master keys' with them to gain entry and do they have top leave a copy of the warrant.

 

Any advice would be appreciated

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Complaint needs to be made to the RSPCA about the Dog Handler, as cruelty is suspected. Unless they are a qualified vet or nurse they should not be giving them anything.

 

They cannot add a prepayment meter with increase tarrif rates to collect a debt from your Aunt related to a previous tenant. It is up to the utility company to chase the previous tenant for payment.

 

Utility companies can enter properties using force if necessary to fit payment meters where necessary, but notice of this would have had to be sent before this took place. Your Aunt should have provided proof of her tenancy and that she is not responsible for any debt Suggest that you obtain advice. Perhap Citizens Advice or the Ombudman can point you in the right direction.

 

http://www.ombudsman-services.org/

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The warrant which would have been shown to the landlord I guess and they have given the bailiff for the utility company a key. The warrant allows them to gain access to instal a prepayment meter.

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Thank you for the reply

We still don't know for definate that a dog handler was used just that the dog was unconcious and bleeding and we need to find out who was there because they would not give any details. They left no paperwork other than a note stating how much has to be put in the meter.

 

Also I thought it was illegal for a landlord to let a bailiff into a property, but the bailiff claimed he has a master key that opens any door!

 

We have no idea who the bailiff was or what the warrant stated and no id on any one else that was there.

 

There was no prior notice of this visit and the bailiff stated that he had been before to the neighbour and couldn't get access.

 

Can they really poke around someones house instead of just fitting the meters which we assume the warrant stated

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name the util co please

 

dx

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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Baillifs would not have a master key to open any door ,they may have a drop key or the like for communal doors ....a letter of intent should have been given to your aunt(or left at property)prior to any disconnection.

British gas also have a policy regarding vulnerable customers ,have you contacted british gas directly to find out why this action was taken ,I know also for a fact British gas should have offered the option of a ppm prior to having someone break in to fit one ,if the account is disputed it will have been sent back to british gas probably several times before they will force fit a ppm ,they should have been informed by who ever carried

out the previous visits that there was a disabled customer at the property,if this were the case this action would not have been taken ,as for the poor dog as said before inform the RSPCA ...

As for the intrusion into your aunts personal belongings ,if it were me I would have called the police immediately ,what would anyone overseeing the fitting of a ppm be doing going through peoples

personal belongings ,the bailiff or who ever it was that was there, is there only to gain entry and see that the fitter is allowed to fit the meter ..Do you know what company the bailiff/agent worked for ?

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This post is truly shocking and in the first instance, your aunt must contact British Gas. Please post back to let us all know what happens with the dog.

 

I link below is to a "Blog" that I read very frequently. It is written by a Justice of the Peace (Magistrates Court) and here you will see a very interesting "thread" about "Utility Warrants". It is well worth reading before making the complaint as there is a lot of background information about such warrants:

 

 

http://thejusticeofthepeace.blog.co.uk/2010/03/23/warrants-of-entry-and-applications-to-disconnect-utility-supply-8231890/

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If the dog was bleeding, I would suspect the dog was subdued with a large boot or another blow, RSPCA must be informed. Also make sure BG are appraised of your Aunts vulnerability, and that her liability for the bill dates back 6 months only to the commencement of her tenancy, so she will be seeking reparation from them once this is resolved for losses actual and consequential, including vets bills for the dog's treatment. Send in a Formal Complaint format and copy to Ofgem also.

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I wonder whether in these circumstances the Police should be called to ask them to investigate. I would also suggest advising the local MP about what happened.

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I wonder whether in these circumstances the Police should be called to ask them to investigate. I would also suggest advising the local MP about what happened.

 

I agree UB, police should be called whether they will do anything or just say sorry it's civil is anyone's guess. The local MP must be fully appraised of the situation, and should quiz BG about their cavalier use of entry warrants on a disputed account.

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British Gas

 

Please do keep this CAG thread updated about the actions you are taking and what responses you have had. You need to take the actions advised in this thread and keep perservering. You will find officials can be frustrating to deal with, as they don't really want to take on additional work. You have to demand action and stamp your feet. If your Aunt is a social housing tenant, the local council authority should also be informed about what took place.

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Typical for british gas, act first ask questions later.

 

This is awful and I hope BG makes good of the situation, big time! and very quickly as well.

 

As others have said, please complain to the highest level there is.

 

I would also place a complaint with the bailiff office who sent the bailiff as well. I would send the vet bill to them and get the RSPCA involved for definite.

 

Have you contacted BG yet and asked them what the hell is going on.

 

I would also get your MP involved and the papers, I would also write to watch dog.

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I wonder whether in these circumstances the Police should be called to ask them to investigate. I would also suggest advising the local MP about what happened.

 

Police should have been called immediately, who ever this person was that went through his aunts belongings had no right to do so ,as for the dog its beyond belief :-(

 

they must have made contact at some stage as a dog handler was present so they knew there was a dog in the property they would also know the breed of dog ,what I cant understand is the actions of BG in this case ,specially as there is a dispute on the account and the account is only 6 months old ,how can they fit a PPM when there

is a disputed balance on the account ,just doesnt make sense tbh ,as for it being a civil matter , if a meter reader came into your house then started going through your belongings you would soon try to shift him ,failing that you would call the police ,this person was there to gain entry and ensure the ppm was allowed to be fitted ,nothing else ..

 

I've had a lot of dealings with british gas in the past ,something somewhere is not right in this case doesnt make any sense tbh ,if BG acted like this they deserve to be reported and reprimanded for their actions ,I would be seeking compensation also ...

Edited by citizenB
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Hope Op comes back with further news, this whole scenario is dreadful. It's a shame a couple of vicious cats weren't in the premises, as the intruders would have had a bad time of it

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Thank you for all the replies,

 

Update on Veggie (the dog) he's now back from the vets and the internal bleeding has now stopped. Blood tests show a massive dose of a controlled sedative to which he's had some sort of reaction and tablets found on the floor are now with the vet being tested. He's also suffered soft tissue injuries as well as cuts and grazes. The vet is writing a report for the RSPCA and Police.

 

Cyberhead - BG have gone at this because of a large outstanding amount left by previous tenant or tenants which my aunt knew nothing about until she got a bill and some £1800 was added on B/F from previous bill. It was suppose to be being sorted out by a person a BG who had received a copy of tenancy and other docs proving date she moved in. In 6 months my aunt has had double direct debits taken and also a card payment which was more than she had agreed. At no time has she had any notice of this as she believed it was being sorted out by BG.

 

My aunt is now in touch with Consumer Direct / Energywatch who are now on the case.

By all accounts the BG bailiff was a bit of a pig according to the neighbour as he told her that he had been before and couldn't get an answer and claims the tenant has been at the property for over two years. Needless to say my aunt is currently looking for somewhere else to live, currently private rental..

 

The only paperwork left behing was about the payment meters stating she must pay £20 a week on each. So can anyone tell me if a copy of the warrant should have been left behind as well?

 

Details have been requested as to who was actually there ie dog handler and if they were qualified, neighbour also says that she counted at least 6/7 people all in the house. Also some damage occured to the property which I assume means that veggie must have put up a fight either that or they tried to shut him in the utility room.

 

I will keep you updated when i have further info

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Thanks dobiedogs, list all the property damage, and get your aunt to write a Letter of Formal Complaint inviting BG to remove the PP meter, ASAP, writren apology and pay the vets bill, and other damages, once you have the cost of the vetinary treatment, also contact BBC Watchdog, and your MP. Also keep on at the police, write to the court that issued the warrant with a summary of the losses and distress caused by BG and their dodgy warrant. as a Formal Complaint to the court manager.

 

At least her dog didn't bite the bailiff or whoever, as the poor dog would have had food poisoning to add to his woes from the tainted bailiff meat

 

Hopefully the police and RSPCA will prosecute those responsible including the muppet in BG who decided to go for a Warrant of entry on flimsy evidence, may even add up to conspiracy.

We could do with some help from you.

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This is shocking behaviour of a utility company of such a size.

 

1. As you haven't actually seen the Warrant you have no idea who name is on this Warrant. (you need to request a copy of this Warrant is it yours or previous tenants name)

2. You need to get the information as to who the Bailiff was.

3. Now did they actually have a key or did they actually use a Locksmith to gain entry.

4. Did the Warrant give them the legal right to rummage through the property and personal belongings to change meters.

5. These action were carried out by BG to a Vulnerable person.

 

just something to bear in mind.

Edited by stu007

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I cannot give any advice by PM - If you provide a link to your Thread then I will be happy to offer advice there.

I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

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I would get watchdog involved here. I bet they would be very interested.

Any advice i give is my own and is based solely on personal experience. If in any doubt about a situation , please contact a certified legal representative or debt counsellor..

 

 

If my advice helps you, click the star icon at the bottom of my post and feel free to say thanks

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Something I would like to ask is your Disabled Aunt by any chance on British Gas - Priority Service Register (PSR) its explained in this BG service standards PDF:

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British Gas = Bungling Goons what more can be said. Hope Op's aunt is ok, and BG fess up and make the appropriate reparations, make sure her MP is told about how a major utility is acting in a cavalier fashion with vulnerable consumers.

We could do with some help from you.

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I would also suggest that such a complaint be brought to the attention of the Magistrate Court who authorised the warrant of entry. Whether they can do anything about it is questionable. However, it almost certainly should lead to the court asking more questions of utility companies before granting such warrants.

 

Please do make sure that you update this thread as and when you can.

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One thing that hasn't been mentioned the Equalities act 2010.

 

Can your Aunt use the pre payment meter? Is the meter located at a height that is safe?

 

I asked this because British Gas a duty under the act.

 

29Provision of services, etc.E+W+S

This section has no associated Explanatory Notes

 

(1)A person (a “service-provider”) concerned with the provision of a service to the public or a section of the public (for payment or not) must not discriminate against a person requiring the service by not providing the person with the service.

 

(2)A service-provider (A) must not, in providing the service, discriminate against a person (B)—

 

(a)as to the terms on which A provides the service to B;

 

(b)by terminating the provision of the service to B;

 

©by subjecting B to any other detriment.

 

(3)A service-provider must not, in relation to the provision of the service, harass—

 

(a)a person requiring the service, or

 

(b)a person to whom the service-provider provides the service.

 

(4)A service-provider must not victimise a person requiring the service by not providing the person with the service.

 

(5)A service-provider (A) must not, in providing the service, victimise a person (B)—

 

(a)as to the terms on which A provides the service to B;

 

(b)by terminating the provision of the service to B;

 

©by subjecting B to any other detriment.

 

(6)A person must not, in the exercise of a public function that is not the provision of a service to the public or a section of the public, do anything that constitutes discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

 

(7)A duty to make reasonable adjustments applies to—

 

(a)a service-provider (and see also section 55(7));

 

(b)a person who exercises a public function that is not the provision of a service to the public or a section of the public.

 

(8)In the application of section 26 for the purposes of subsection (3), and subsection (6) as it relates to harassment, neither of the following is a relevant protected characteristic—

 

(a)religion or belief;

 

(b)sexual orientation.

 

(9)In the application of this section, so far as relating to race or religion or belief, to the granting of entry clearance (within the meaning of the Immigration Act 1971), it does not matter whether an act is done within or outside the United Kingdom.

 

(10)Subsection (9) does not affect the application of any other provision of this Act to conduct outside England and Wales or Scotland.

 

Sorry for quoting the whole service bit. It basically means in providing the service to someone with a disability certain reasonable adjustments must be made. If the prepayment meter is not usable safely (to high / too low) and if your Aunt was not mobile enough to get the 'top ups' then a prepayment meter is not suitable. Nor would it be if your Aunt had problems in using the meter itself. The example ill use is if the meter runs out of credit and leaves no fuel to use and unable to use/top up your Aunt is now in a worse situation than the previously, to her detriment.

I would suggest that 29 (2)(a) + © would be the most likely one to apply here.

They can offer to relocate the meter I believe at landlords cost to a more reasonable place. I am sure the landlord wouldn't be to keen.

The Act also allows for remedies in the county court.

I used this section when I had a falling out with a fuel supplier and they turned up to fit a prepayment meter.. they went away without replacing the meter.

 

Also I believe that British Gas are responsible for the actions of the people they use to do their work.

 

I apologise for such a long winded post but feel that getting rid of the prepayment meter is the way to make British Gas deal with the issue and not bludgeon through the persons rights. They may have the right to get an entry order but they still have to comply with the Equalities Act 2010.

Edited by Zonker
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One thing that hasn't been mentioned the Equalities act 2010.

 

Can your Aunt use the pre payment meter? Is the meter located at a height that is safe?

 

I asked this because British Gas a duty under the act.

 

I apologise for such a long winded post but feel that getting rid of the prepayment meter is the way to make British Gas deal with the issue and not bludgeon through the persons rights. They may have the right to get an entry order but they still have to comply with the Equalities Act 2010.

 

No you have raised a valid point, they are bound by the Equalities Act 2010, they shouid have done a risk assessment into the H&S aspect of fitting a PP meter in a disabled consumers premises, so maybe reporting BG AND the bailiff/locksmith gas fitter to HSA is also an option if only to further drop BG into fecking up with a disputed account and seriously disadvantaging a vulnerable consumer, who as you rightly point out may not even be abler to credit the meter as she cannot access it to do so.

 

This point may be another stick to beat them with, as the last thing BG want is HSE investigations, I think they need to risk assess on each Individual case where there is vulnerability before fitting a PP meter. Under that head they can be in a whole heap of trouble for what they did to OP's aunt.

Edited by brassnecked

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