Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013: An Introduction

In 2014, significant changes were made to the way in which bailiffs can enforce debts by the introduction of the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013.  Most importantly, the fees that can be charged are fixed and transparent. The following page is  an overview of the new regulations.

Terminology

The Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013  modernise terminology. The terms ‘levy, ‘distress’ or ‘distrain’ are now known as the process of ‘taking control of goods’.  A ‘walking possession agreement’ is now called a ‘Controlled Goods Agreement’ and bailiffs are now known as ‘enforcement agents’ (although they can still be referred to as bailiffs).

‘Warrants of execution’ (in particular for road traffic debts) and ‘warrants of distress’ (for Magistrate Court fines) have been renamed  ‘warrants of control’. With debts enforced via the High Court, the centuries old term of a writ of fieri facias (writ of fi fa) has been  renamed a ‘writ of control’

NB: A detailed Glossary of the new terminology can be read  here.

Enforcement Agent Fees

The Taking Control of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 also came into effect in 2014 and with the exception of  ‘writs of control’ (enforced via the High Court), the following fees apply to all debt types (council tax and non domestic rate arrears, local authority issued penalty charge notices, magistrate court fines, child support agency arrears and rent arrears).

Stage 1: Compliance Stage Fee: £75

Upon receipt of an instruction from the client, the enforcement company must send a Notice of Enforcement to the debtor. The notice must provide the date of the notice and the date and time by which full payment or a payment arrangement must be set up. This strict period of time is referred to as the ‘compliance stage and must by law provide a minimum period of seven ‘clear days’  before an enforcement agent may visit the property.

The compliance fee of £75 is payable for each Liability Order or Warrant of Control.

Stage 2: Enforcement Stage fee: £235.00 (plus 7.5% of the value of the debt that exceeds £1,500.00).

If full payment or a payment arrangement is not made during the Compliance Stage or a previous payment arrangement is broken, the case will progress to the ‘enforcement stage’ and an individual enforcement agent/bailiff will attend the property for the purpose of ‘taking control of goods’. This fee becomes payable at the time of attendance.

If the enforcement agent is enforcing more than one Liability Order or Warrant of Control against the same debtor he may only charge one ‘enforcement stage’ fee (of £235). He cannot apply ‘multiple’ charges.

Stage 3: Sale stage Fee:£110.00 (plus 7.5% of the value of the debt that exceeds £1,500.00).

This fee shall be charged when an Enforcement Agent attends the premises to remove goods and makes preparations for the sale of goods. It is important to note that additional charges may be applied relating to the removal. These include storage and locksmith’s fees.

NB: Full details of the fees be found in our Bailiff Fees section here

Forms and Documentation

The new regulations provide a series of statutory forms that must be used by the enforcement agent. Full details of all forms and the information that must be provided on them can be viewed  here

Making a payment proposal

The Taking Control of Goods Regulations provides debtors with a strict period in which to make payment or to negotiate a payment arrangement. This is referred to as the ‘Compliance stage’  and begins with receipt of the Notice of Enforcement.  If you cannot pay the entire debt in full within the strict time period outlined in the notice, (a minimum of seven ‘clear days’) then it is vitally important   to contact the enforcement company to make a payment arrangement. Most companies will readily agree to accept an arrangement over a period of 3 months (and possibly even 6 months) depending on the individual circumstances. Providing the enforcement company with a simple Income and Expenditure calculation at this stage may be of assistance.

Failure to make payment (or to agree a payment arrangement) during the compliance stage will lead to a bailiff making a personal visit to ‘take control’ of your goods. This visit will incur an enforcement fee of £235 as outlined above.

NB: Details on making a payment proposal with the local authority can be read here and in cases of an unpaid Magistrate Court fine;  the following page should assist

Vulnerable debtors

Much further protection is given to vulnerable debtors under the regulations. One example being that a vehicle displaying a disabled badge is now exempt from being taken by a bailiff.

An enforcement agent will not know in advance whether a person is ‘vulnerable’. It is therefore vitally important to make the enforcement company aware of any ‘vulnerability’ at the earliest possible stage (during the compliance stage) and where possible, to provide some form of documentary evidence. Given the importance of this subject we have introduced  the following  new page specifically about bailiff enforcement and vulnerability.

Times of day when a Bailiff/ Enforcement Agent may visit

The enforcement agent/bailiff is allowed  to visit your property seven days a week (including Sunday) between 6.00 a.m. and 9.00 p.m. He is not allowed  to visit on Bank Holidays and Christmas Day

Items that are exempt from being taken by a bailiff

As outlined above, if full payment  or a payment arrangement is not set up during the ‘compliance stage’, the account will progress to the ‘enforcement stage’ and a personal visit will be made to ‘take control’ of goods (hence the name of the regulations).  In reality, the enforcement agent will be seeking full payment of the debt. If this is not possible, then he may ‘take control’  of none exempt goods. The regulations provide that he cannot take control of any of the following:

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.

Domestic pets and guide dogs.

Note from Bailiff Advice

If you have any queries about enforcement of a debt by a bailiff, you can email a question to us using our popular Question page. Alternatively, you can contact us by phone.

Please refer to our Contact us  page for further details.