What items can the Bailiff take from my home?
On 6th April 2014 the new Taking Control of Goods regulations took effect which significantly changes the way in which bailiff/enforcement agents pursue debts (such as council tax arrears, unpaid parking charge notice, and unpaid magistrate court fines). Prior to 6th April different statutory regulations and fee scales has been in place for each debt type. That has now changed and each debt type now comes under the same regulation and with the exception of county court judgments enforced by a High Court Enforcement Officer the same statutory fee scale is applicable.
Firstly, it is important to be aware that you are not under any legal obligation to allow a bailiff into your home.
Secondly, it is important to be aware that it is very rare indeed for goods to actually be removed with industry sources stating that goods are only removed in less than 0.5% of cases. Sadly, it is the ‘threat’ of removal that a bailiff relies upon for payment and whether this is right or wrong the fact is that such a threat does tend to lead to payment being made (many times by borrowing from family or friends). It is of course much easier for a bailiff/enforcement agent to use the ‘threat’ of removal if you have previously allowed him into your home and a Controlled Goods Agreement signed. You need to take this into consideration if you are minded to allow him into your home.
Under the Taking Control of Goods regulations more protection has been given to debtors for items that are exempt from being taken into control by the bailiff. These are as follows:
Items that are ‘exempt’ by law from being taken by a bailiff:
- Items or equipment (for example, tools, books, telephones, computer equipment and vehicles) which are necessary for use personally by the debtor in the debtor’s employment, business, trade, profession, study or education, except that in any case the aggregate value of the items or equipment to which this exemption is applied shall not exceed £1,350;
- Clothes, beds, bedding, furniture, household equipment, items and provisions as are reasonably required to satisfy the basic domestic needs of the debtor and every member of the debtor’s household
- Cooker or microwave, fridge, washing machine, dining table and dining chairs to seat the debtor and every member of the debtor’s household.
- Land line telephone, or a mobile phone
- Sufficient lighting and heating facilities
- Medical equipment and items needed for the care of a child or elderly person.
- Safety and security equipment, eg. burglar alarms, locks and CCTV system
- Domestic pets and guide dogs
- Any vehicle displaying a valid disabled person’s badge, British Medical Association badge or other health emergency badge
Will the bailiff take my car?
A motor vehicle is almost certainly a attractive asset and one that a bailiff/enforcement agent would prefer to ‘take control of’. Firstly, it is very likely to be the item that would be easy to identify as it would most likely be on the debtor’s own driveway and secondly, a motor vehicle is also likely to be the most valuable item available and one that would gain a better price at auction and almost certainly more than second hand items from the property. Under the new Taking Control of Goods regulations that took effect on 6th April there is specific provision for a vehicle to be considered “exempt” in the following circumstances:
The vehicle must be for use by the debtor personally. The vehicle must be used by the debtor personally in his or her , employment, business, trade, profession, study or education. The aggregate value of the vehicle, cannot exceed £1,350
Given the importance of this subject we will be preparing a separate section dedicated to motor vehicles and we hope to have completed this by the end of August. This new section will address queries on whether a vehicle can be taken if it is subject to finance, guidance on the ‘valuation’ of £1,350, the position with jointly owned goods and most importantly; the remedies available to the debtor (or third party) if a vehicle has been taken.