SHERIFF ADVICE

What to do if Sheriff Officers come knocking

A Sheriff Officer turning up at your door can be a frightening ordeal - but don’t worry! We are here to help.

If the Sheriffs turn up at your door:

  • Do NOT let them in - Sheriff Officers have no right to enter your home unless they have a court order giving them express permission.
  • Do NOT let them push you around - Sheriff Officers are known for using intimidation tactics.
  • If you stay calm, stand your ground and don't give them any information, there's not a lot they can do
  • Do NOT negotiate with them before speaking to us - Sheriff Officers will use any and all information you give against you. Make sure you Call Us so we can advise you on how to proceed.

What happens when you are in debt with your local council:

There are many reasons you might end up in debt with your local council due to council tax. Maybe your financial situation has dramatically changed, you have fallen under hard times or you have simply forgotten to pay.

When this happens, you will be sent letters from your local council asking you to pay your debt. Eventually, they will threaten to use a sheriff officer to recover what you owe. It is advised that you try to settle your debts before this stage, but if for any reason you cannot pay, the council will pass on your debts to a sheriff officer for recovery. Once this has happened, you will be dealing directly with the sheriff's office, not your local council.

What is a Summary Warrant?

Sheriff Officers have the power to enforce court orders. The most common court order is called a Summary Warrant. If you a receive a Summary Warrant it will tell you the amount of money you owe and when the payments are due. On top of your original debt, you will be charged a 10% penalty charge to cover the Sheriff’s fees.

If you are in employment, the summary warrant allows the sheriff officers to arrest some of what you owe out of your wages. The amount taken depends on how much money you earn, including commission, bonuses and sick pay, and doesn’t take any other debts or outgoing payments into account. This money can be taken directly from your bank account. You should always be left with at least 60% of your overall income.

If you are on benefits or a form of income support, such as jobseeker’s allowance, Sheriff Officers can attempt to take money directly from these payments.

This sounds like a harsh penalty - but don’t worry, there are ways of stopping or lifting wage arrestments if you act fast and seek expert help.

What should I do if I receive a Summary Warrant?

Summary Warrants are a way of ensuring your debts are paid, so if you act fast and seek expert help in order to set up an affordable payment plan, you may be able to prevent your wages from being arrested.

There are several formal debt solutions available to Scottish residents that will revoke your creditor’s right to arrest your wages, such as Trust Deeds and Debt Arrangement Schemes (DAS). Talk to a debt advice service to find out which debt solution is most suited to your current situation.

If you still cannot pay your debts, there is a chance that Sheriff Officers will obtain a court order to repossess your possessions. Sheriffs are limited in what they can take, but if they have a court order there is nothing you can do to prevent the seizure of your possessions without paying your debts. It is always best to try and find the right debt solution for you before allowing the situation to escalate to this stage.