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I have a bailiff at my door, what can I do?

Have you been contacted by a bailiff and threatened with repossession of your property, car and account? What can you do in such a situation, what are your rights and what can and cannot the bailiff do with your property? We will advise you.

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When the bailiff rings the doorbell

You don’t normally have to worry about a bailiff ringing your doorbell out of the blue. If you collect from the mailbox and communicate with the authorities and creditors, you would know that “something” is about to happen. The execution itself is usually preceded by a notice from the creditor (i.e. the person to whom you owe money or a service). If they go unanswered, the creditor goes to court to help them enforce their rights. At this stage, the execution can still be averted. It is only necessary to communicate and act. If the creditor obtains an order for payment or a court judgment, he can turn to a bailiff, who will ask the court to authorise and order the execution. You must be informed of all these steps.

Tip: We have discussed in detail how to prevent foreclosure and what are the options for defence in another article.

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If you have already come into contact with the bailiff, active communication, ideally in a polite manner, is more than advisable. It is possible that the bailiff is the most hated person in your life at the moment, but know that at some point he or she will also gain some power over your life. If you hurl abuse and send threatening letters and then remember that you could use a payment plan, you are unlikely to succeed.

In any case, contact the bailiff as soon as possible and start discussing payment options. All communication is recommended in writing, by data mail or by email with an electronic signature.

What can be foreclosed on?

Many people think of foreclosure as the proverbial doorbell ringing that leaves you with nothing but a mattress and two dresses and shoes in your home. However, foreclosure by sale of the property is almost an extreme option and certainly does not go to such extremes. In reality, there are several ways of foreclosure, and it will always be easier for the bailiff to “take” something from the debtor’s account or wages than to try to sell his property. However, the law, which determines the sequence of the various methods, has the final say. So what options does the bailiff theoretically have? He can execute the execution

  • by deductions from wages and other income,
  • by attachment of a debt (here it’s a so-called attachment of an account),
  • by seizing a business establishment,
  • administration of immovable property,
  • suspension of driving licences,
  • sale of movable property,
  • sale of immovable property.

The sale of movable property is the penultimate of all possible methods, and the law provides for the sale of the real estate in which the debtor resides.

Deductions from wages and other income

Execution can affect part of the wages, but also other income such as sick pay, maternity pay, pension, disability pension, scholarship, unemployment benefit, parental allowance or child benefit. Don’t forget that a garnishment can also affect a spouse’s finances.

However, there is a non-forfeitable minimum in the case of deductions from wages or other income. This depends on the family situation (number of children and spouse) and also on the amount of wages. It can be easily calculated for a particular debtor using calculators on the internet.

If an account is also attached, the amount of three times the minimum subsistence level cannot be deducted from it. The debtor can withdraw this in one lump sum. However, if there is a combination of garnishment and deductions from wages, the law offers the possibility of setting up a protected account. The remaining part of the wages, i.e. the aforementioned non-withdrawable minimum, is sent to this account and can then be disposed of in the normal way.

Tip: We have discussed wage garnishment in detail in our article.

Enforcement of driving licence suspension

It is ordered only in the case of recovery of child support (i.e. alimony).

Execution by administration of the property

This is a case where the debtor owns, for example, another flat which he rents out. The court may order the tenant to deposit the rent in an account designated by the tenant and prohibit the debtor from paying it, or take other measures (in theory, it may also terminate the lease under the conditions provided for by law and negotiate a new, more favourable one, etc.).

Execution by sale of movable property

If it is not possible to execute on the debtor’s salary or other income, execution by sale of movables (so-called mobile execution) may be carried out. The element of surprise plays an important role here. Therefore, the debtor is not served with the order for enforcement until the execution is carried out, so that he or she cannot remove anything of higher value from the apartment beforehand. Of course, however, it is not possible to sell anything that comes to the bailiff’s hand. Certain items are excluded from the sale by law. This applies to ordinary clothes as well as ordinary household equipment (table, chairs kitchen and kitchen utensils, cooker, washing machine, etc.) unless these exceed their normal value. Furthermore, the bailiff may not take away the debtor’s medicines and necessary medical supplies or aids – walking sticks, wheelchair, etc., as well as supplies that the debtor or family members need for their studies or occupation. This also includes various personal items such as photographs, documents, wedding dresses, medals, as well as wedding rings. Children will not lose their toys or pets, as well as textbooks and study literature.

Foreclosure by sale of real estate

The sale of immovable property is the penultimate category that the bailiff approaches in the execution, or the last one if it concerns real estate in which the debtor has a permanent residence. The real estate in which the debtor resides may be regarded as unenforceable in the case of debts of less than CZK 100 000.

However, this exception or limit does not apply to maintenance debts, claims for substitute maintenance or claims for compensation for injury caused to the victim by personal injury or crime, as this would be contrary to good morals.

What must the bailiff be guided by?

The bailiff has a duty of independence, being bound by the Constitution, laws and other legal regulations or court decisions. He must have an expert’s report on the value of the property if it is to be sold at auction and respect the procedure of the execution procedure prescribed by law.

A significant part of the bailiff’s work consists in identifying the debtor’s potential income and assets. Various institutions are obliged to provide him with assistance. Among other things, the Czech Post must provide the bailiff with the identity of people who rent post boxes or other delivery points from it, details of the number of parcels received, and, where appropriate, the total amount of money that comes to the debtor by post. It also involves the Czech Social Security Administration, building and health insurance companies, pension funds, the police and many other institutions.

What is the debtor governed by and where can he complain?

The debtor should cooperate with the bailiff in his own interest (although it may not seem like it), provide cooperation, should not conceal any income, and should report any changes (employment, residence).

If he/she disagrees with the bailiff’s procedure, he/she can file a complaint with the Chamber of Executors of the Czech Republic. However, it is advisable to have evidence in hand to back up his words. If the complaint concerns the inventory of the property, it is advisable to make a record of the event. Another body to which it is theoretically possible to turn with a written complaint is the Ministry of Justice of the Czech Republic, which exercises state supervision over execution activities. It should be added, however, that a complaint will not stop the execution.

What about execution and inheritance?

Frequent questions we receive about enforcement relate to inheritance. Even property acquired in an inheritance can be subject to execution and the executor is very likely to target it. If one of the heirs is in foreclosure, the family usually does not like to see part of the family property disappear irretrievably and pressures the heir to give up his or her portion of the inheritance. Although he can do so in the context of the succession proceedings, the executor will probably not agree with his move and will consider it as an intention to shortchange the creditors. He is likely to challenge such a move and may do so within three years at the latest.

Payment of the execution

If the debtor has secured the money to pay the amount recovered, paying it is of course the easiest way to end the execution. The total amount recovered is shown on the execution order. A notice of termination of the execution will be sent by the bailiff to the debtor after the final order for payment of the costs of the execution has become final, but only at the debtor’s request. Once the claim has been paid in full, the bailiff’s authority and the entire execution procedure shall cease.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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