Marshals Can Enter Apartments to Seize Property From Debtors

A new law that comes into force Friday allows authorities to enter the apartments of debtors without their consent in order to confiscate property.

The law is the latest in a series of measures aimed at cracking down on debtors, and it gives court marshals the right to enter the apartment of a person who ignores a court order to pay off a debt on time.

An appraiser will accompany marshals on raids to evaluate property equal to the amount of the outstanding debt, which will then be confiscated, Federal Court Marshals Service spokesman Igor Komissarov said Thursday.

The new measure is aimed at "the most cunning" debtors and "those who are hiding" from their creditors, Komissarov said.

Previously, court marshals could only stand outside the door of a debtor's apartment and wait for him to open the door or arrive home, Komissarov said.

In certain cases, court marshals will be allowed to enter apartments at night and on weekends, according to the new law.

The law also gives court marshals the right to notify debtors of a court decision using any available means of communication. Previously, marshals were allowed to notify a debtor of a court decision ordering him to pay a creditor only via post, making it easy for debtors to ignore notifications, he said.

Marshals will now use SMS, e-mail messages and telegrams to notify debtors, Komissarov said. "This is both about preventing malicious debtors from evading their debts and about ensuring that debtors be informed about the necessity to pay," he said.

Meanwhile, amendments to the Criminal Code that take effect Friday will give marshals the authority to conduct investigations of debtors.

People who evade paying back bank loans or alimony, for example, will be investigated by marshals rather than police, Komissarov said.