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"Celebrity Bailiff" visit.... Can they do this?


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We have a shop which is rented to us on a 15yr lease. We've now been trading for more than 2yrs, having had the keys for around 30 months. Upon first moving in, we noticed problems with the roof, as in water leaks in several places when it rains heavily.

 

This was reported to the Landlord several times, and so called repairs have been carried out, several times too.

 

However, over 2yrs later, the roof still leaks, and quite frankly, it's dangerous, as it leaks into the stockroom area, causing a slippery floor, and more importantly, leaks down onto the electricity meter and fuse box, then onto the floor and causing a pool around the toilet... Not nice when you need a pee!

 

So as the rent is paid quarterly in advance, and was due on 29th Oct - I decided, to write to the Landlord 14 days before the rent was due, and tell him that I considered his failure to repair the roof to be a breach of our contract/lease, and as such I would be withholding payment of the rent until such date as repairs were effected. I also said that I was taking this action reluctantly, but as the matter had remained unresolved for over 2 yrs, I felt that this was my only method of getting repairs carried out satisfactorily. I sent this letter by recorded delivery, and have confirmation of same.

 

I heard nothing back from him whatsoever, and the due date for the rent came and went..

 

Yesterday however, I got a call from the girl in the shop, that bailiffs were in attendence, and wanted to be allowed in to seize goods (Our shop is a fully "bandit screened" off licence) She had told them that she didn't care who they were, they were not coming past the door.

 

She passed the phone to one of them and he came outside to talk to me - He told me he was a HCEO and was here to collect the outstanding rent, plus their "charges of £486.00" I asked him if he had a Court Order, to which he answered no, so I asked if he had a High Court Writ, again, the answer was no. So I told him he wouldn't be getting anything, and I would be there shortly.

 

I left, and telephoned the Landlord on the way, I was straight to the point with him, and asked what he was playing at, he told me that they (DCBLtd) had sent me a letter a week before at his instruction advising that if the rent remains unpaid, they would be attending. I told him (honestly) that no letter had been received. We had a discussion, and it was agreed that if I paid him the rent the following day, into his bank as per the normal method, he would commence repairs...

 

So, when I arrived at the shop, I told the Bailiff that he needed to speak to the client who had instructed him, as it had been sorted. He went outside and did this. A few mins later he came back in and said he had advised the Landlord to phone his office, as he could only be told to discontinue by them. So we waited a further 10 mins, at this time, I was still "outside" the screens. His office then rang, and he told me "That's fine for the rent, however I need to collect our fees" Obviously, know that they were his "wages" I told him I'd not be paying anything, as he no longer had a debt to collect, and I'd not received the initial letter in any case. I then asked in what role he was attending today, and his reply? "I'm here today as a private bailiff o collect rent arrears" That to me, told me all I needed to know, he had no court order, no writ, and wasn't even acting as a HCEO on this visit.

 

I turned around and unlocked the door to let myself into the shop, and the cheeky bugger wedged his foot firmly into it..

 

I phoned my Solicitor whilst I was leaning against the door, and he advised me to call the Police, which I did.. Anyway, we both stayed there for 15 mins, him on one side with his size 10 wedged in the gap, me on the other... His colleague then suggested they "give up" and he removed his foot, just as the Police arrived...

 

I spoke to them and said I wanted them off the premises and the Police advised them of the same. He did however say, "you are still liable for our charges, so we will be back" and passed me the attached letter/form.

 

So this morning, the rent has been paid to Landlord directly, therefore there is no longer any "debt" so, can they just chase their "charges" even though they've done nothing for them, and the compliance letter was never received? Interestingly, they have also included £114 for the "sale stage fee" Erm, for selling what exactly??

 

Comments anyone?

 

Mike

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If there is no CCJ/judgement... ignore:-)

 

Andy

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Unfortunately the first thing you did wrong was to withold the rent as no matter the reason why if this is late by as much as 1 day this is what happens.

 

As the landlord has voluntarily accepted payment from you I would tell your new friends to go and see him for payment.

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If they ever return dial 999

 

No court order, no baliff :)

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The SabreSheep, All information is offered on good faith and based on mine and others experiences. I am not a qualified legal professional and you should always seek legal advice if you are unsure of your position.

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If there is no CCJ/judgement... ignore:-)

 

Andy

 

Cheers Andy - That was my thinking, TBH I am seriously annoyed with the Landlord too, fancy taking that sort of action instead of just speaking to me and assuring me repairs would be done, mind you I'd probably not believe him based on past repairs..

 

I've just had the Landlord on the phone, he reckons the bailiff company are pressing him for payment, I've told him that's his problem as he instructed them, and I don't owe any money now. I take it, that even if he chooses to pay their fees, I can't be held liable for them?

 

Mike

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Cheeky beggar.. The bailiff himself has just called me to ask if the money, including his fees has been paid... I answered that I have dealt directly with the Landlord and do not need or wish to speak to him, before ending the call....

 

Mike

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Isnt using that form misrepresenting their legal position.

 

Surely its time to send them a letter form the cag library regarding harassment, copying it to the landlord as he is ultimately responsible for their actions.

 

Stay off the phone, deal everything in writing and refuse to talk to that bailiff company again.

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As said previously for Commercial Rent you only need to be late paying by 1 day. The Landlord may then instruct the HCEO to coleect what is due - no CCJ or Court Order needed. It used to be the first you knew was when the knock at the door came but under the new rules you are given notice - similar to Council Tax etc.

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" no CCJ/Judgment or Court Order needed."

 

Really PT?...learn something new everyday.:-)

 

CHANGE IN LAW

 

The landlord's common law right of distress against his tenant to recover arrears of rent for commercial premises using the services of a certificated bailiff was abolished on the 6th April 2014. The regulations still gives commercial landlords a powerful summary remedy, which can be used without the need for court action.

 

The landlord's common law right of distress has been replaced by new regulations called Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR). The new regulations will however only allow a landlord to recover rent arrears and not any service charges, these will have to be recovered through the County Court and obtaining a County Court Judgment which we can transfer to the High Court to enforce.

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Yup, CRAR came into force this year, so whilst on one hand, I've been "lucky" that the LL accepted payment, I do think that his doing so was partially due to the outstanding maintenance issues...

 

Mike

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Oh, didn't explain the "Celebrity" bit lol..

 

It was this, erm... "Couple" that attended...... :lol:

 

293d8vo.jpg

 

And whilst "Mr Stupid Sunglasses" was waiting for me to arrive, he was outside asking the kids and customers coming into the shop "have you seen me on Can't Pay, Won't Pay?" I actually heard him whilst reviewing the CCTV..

 

Sorry, but how sad a person do you have to be??

 

Mike

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Oh, didn't explain the "Celebrity" bit lol..

 

It was this, erm... "Couple" that attended...... :lol:

 

293d8vo.jpg

 

And whilst "Mr Stupid Sunglasses" was waiting for me to arrive, he was outside asking the kids and customers coming into the shop "have you seen me on Can't Pay, Won't Pay?" I actually heard him whilst reviewing the CCTV..

 

Sorry, but how sad a person do you have to be??

 

Mike

Sorry to be rude but what a bell-end. Isn't something about DPA he can be pinned under, with regard to breach of Data Protection.

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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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PT is right of course and the site team should be careful when giving advice that is wrong.

 

In any event the bailiff in this matter was acting as a bailiff (enforcement agent) and not an HCEO. It is illegal for them to refer to themselves in this way as it misrepresents their powers. I would also add that wedging their foot in the door trick is not allowed either.

 

You should have first received a Notice of Enforcement giving you seven clear days to make payment (they can only charge £75 for this). If payment is not made or an agreement is not reached then a visit will occur creating a further £235 fee and a further fee of 7.5% over £100 owed.

 

If you have ignored the Notice then the fees above are due and legal.

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PT is right of course and the site team should be careful when giving advice that is wrong.

 

In any event the bailiff in this matter was acting as a bailiff (enforcement agent) and not an HCEO. It is illegal for them to refer to themselves in this way as it misrepresents their powers. I would also add that wedging their foot in the door trick is not allowed either.

 

You should have first received a Notice of Enforcement giving you seven clear days to make payment (they can only charge £75 for this). If payment is not made or an agreement is not reached then a visit will occur creating a further £235 fee and a further fee of 7.5% over £100 owed.

 

If you have ignored the Notice then the fees above are due and legal.

 

No letter or "Notice of Enforcement" was received, if it had of been, then I certainly would have been on the phone to the LL when it was.

 

Mike

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well,

 

They have just revisited, and were extremely threatening to my Wife, who was in the shop today whilst I took the kids to the school Xmas fare..

 

They said, "If you don't open the door, we'll use a sledgehammer on it!"

 

She rightly, called the Police..

 

So what did they want?

 

Their fees, namely ;

 

£90 compliance stage fee (letter never received)

 

£275 Attendance fee

 

£121 Sale fee (no goods were seized or sold)

 

Police attended, and even though my own Solicitor spoke to them, they told the Police that they had only received part payment on the last visit, which is a blatant lie, as they have received nothing from me, as I paid the Landlord directly.

 

Long story short, when I got there, I had 2 bailiffs, 4 police officers and a very busy shop, police advice was they thought it was enforceable, and they would only step in if there was a breach of the peace...

 

So I paid by debit card on the spot...

 

My question is, how can they charge a sale fee when nothing was taken/seized or sold?

 

Also, my understanding of CRAR is that it can only be used to recover the rent arrears, and nothing else? This is backed up by this from the HCEO/Sherrif's website..

 

CRAR

CRAR – Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery – allows landlords of commercial property to take control of (seize) goods belonging to the tenant to sell at auction to pay rent arrears. A court order is not required.

CRAR replaces the previous Common Law remedy of distress or distraint for rent. However, there are some key differences.

Under CRAR:

There must be a written lease in place

Only rent may be recovered, nothing else

CRAR may not be used for mixed use premises

The rent must be at least 7 days overdue

7 days’ notice of the landlord’s intention to exercise CRAR must be served

CRAR may only be enforced by a Certificated Enforcement Agent

 

 

Mike

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