The information listed in this post applies to individuals living in England and Wales.
Since you know that bailiffs can take goods as debt payments, you might be thinking – what can and they take and what they can’t. Though bailiffs have the right and power to collect your debt, there are set procedures that they must follow when exercising their authority.
Temporary Change in Bailiff Rules due to COVID-19 Pandemic as of April 2020
If you are concern with bailiffs stopping at your door, no longer should you get stressed out. Besides, if you seek for ways to deal with your debt we recommend reading: Financial help during the coronavirus lockdown
During the COVID-19 or coronavirus lockdown, bailiffs are prohibited to come to your home; however, they can still reach you through a phone call or email.
In fact, majority of sheriff officer firms in Scotland stops home visits during the lockdown. People are being notified either by letter or phone call.
Goods or Assets that bailiffs can Take from You
What are the things that bailiffs can take from my home?
If you fail to pay your debt, bailiffs can take goods from your home. These are things that can be sold to compensate debt payments.
Generally, they can only take tangible goods that they can physically get hold of; this means, goods that they can see from your window can’t be taken from you.
Because of this, their usual target are your motor vehicles, pieces of jewelry, or pieces of furniture. However, they will be more interested in taking goods with high value, which they can sell for a good barter.
Things that they MUST LEAVE essential items that includes:
- Basically, bailiffs are obliged to leave basic home items which are as follows:
- Landline or mobile phone
- Washing machine and fridge
- Your dining, leaving adequate hairs for the household
- Microwave or cooker
- Bed and sheets for everyone
- Home appliances to light and heat up your home
- Medical supplies and pieces of equipment
There are also secured goods or items that a bailiff CAN”T TAKE:
- Items or goods that you do not own unless owned jointly by someone else’s
- Attachments in your home such as kitchen or studio, etc.
- Goods bought under hire purchase agreement, which payments are not completed
- Pets and trained dogs to offer assistance
- Trade tools, books, and other devices or equipment essential to your trade or study with its value not greater than £1,350
- Goods that are used currently on a daily basis such as a motor vehicle, though this can be taken on a certain period.
Can bailiffs seize my car?
Bailiffs have to confirm car ownership through the DVLA and Hire Purchase Index before they can decide whether to take control of your car.
Thus, if you own a vehicle especially a car, bailiffs will usually aim for it. In fact, they can tow your car away if your car is openly displayed at your home or in a public area. Also, if our car is included in the controlled goods agreement. So, if you parked your vehicle in a private lot that belongs to others, bailiffs can’t take it unless in the presence of court order.
Some vehicles are secured, thus CAN’T be seized nor taken in control:
- A vehicle that you used for work or those that are essential on your job, which value does not exceeds £1,350
- Vehicles subjected to logbook loan, which finance arrangement hasn’t been finalized.
- A vehicle with a disabled identification, or when used by a disabled individual
- A vehicle can serve as your home (egs: caravan, houseboat, camper van).
Bailiffs often conduct searches upon knowing that you own a vehicle. They normally check nearby streets and utilizes ANPR or automatic number plate recognition to spot your vehicle while they are driving around.
Can bailiffs gain authority on my hire purchase car?
If you have a hire purchase car, it is considered as a property of a third party unless you have completed the payment on your contract. This means enforcement agents cannot take it from you since they are only allowed to take what you own.
However, recent stipulations under these rules vary in interpretations. Some bailiffs insist that their rights cover a hire purchase agreement.
How to manage a bailiff threatening to take my hire purchase vehicle?
Since the car belongs to the third party company, you can file a complaint on actions taken by the bailiffs:
- Write a letter of complaint to the bailiff company and keep a copy of your letter for documentation purposes. Kept a proof of receipt, indicating that your letter has been sent or received.
- You must send similar complaint letter to your creditor who instructed the bailiff to act on his behalf.
- If your creditor is supervised by the ombudsman or regulator (Financial Ombudsman or Local Government Ombudsman), make sure to send the same letter to them.
What can bailiffs do with goods
Bailiffs will create an inventory of the goods they can take if you don’t arrange any payments towards your debt. Therefore, if you damage, remove, or sell any goods that are included in the list, a bailiff can file grounds for criminal offense against you. Until you did not pay your debts in full, only bailiffs possess the right to sell, or remove the goods included in the inventory (controlled goods).
Four ways on how bailiff deals with your goods after making an inventory of the controlled goods:
- Bailiffs can leave the controlled goods under your care so you can still use them while making debt payments and complying arrangements agreed to pay off your debt. If you fail to put payments, a bailiff can come back and take the goods included in the inventory.
- It is not uncommon for bailiffs to tell you that they will seize your goods right away and sell them. The costs of removing goods, implementing a controlled goods agreement usually take time since there are set procedures that must be followed.
- If you fear that bailiffs might take your car anytime when you leave it on public property or public area, well, this is not likely to happen unless with a court warrant.
- Bailiffs locking up controlled goods in a garage or one of the rooms in your property is a common practice in terms of business debts. They may also do the same if they’ve taken your goods in control.
Can I sell or hide my goods from bailiffs?
Your rights to hide, sell, or remove goods from your premises is acceptable depending on where you stand during the process of enforcement.
Here are some pointers on when you can sell, remove, or hide your property as per enforcement stages:
- You can hide, dispose, or take away your goods before receipt of the notice of enforcement.
- If you get the notice of enforcement, but bailiff hasn’t come to your premises yet, you can still take or hide your goods. At some point, selling them during this stage may still be ignored by the bailiffs.
- When an inventory of your goods is created by a bailiff, you can no longer hide, sell, or removed the goods listed in the inventory. This means bailiffs have taken control of your goods. So, if you fail to comply (selling, removing, hiding goods), or even damage the controlled goods, a criminal offense can be taken against you.
Who can help me in dealing with bailiffs?
Getting a letter or visit from a bailiff is an indication to seek FREE DEBT ADVICE. Our team of debt experts can help you in control of the situation.
We can help you get back on your feet by putting a debt management plan together. You must need to act now before the situation becomes worst.