Can enforcement agents (bailiffs) take your pets?

Can enforcement agents (bailiffs) take your pets?

Enforcement agents can only take control of certain goods and they must complete a Controlled Goods Agreement listing the items that may be taken away. Pets are never included and cannot be taken away, regardless of whether they are a service/support animal or a regular domestic animal such as cats, dogs, birds, rabbits and reptiles.

A certified enforcement agent (EA) will never threaten that you are at risk of having pets taken away. Anyone that asks you to hand over your animal to resolve your council tax debt should be denied. This should raise suspicions around the authenticity of the person and you should take measures to ensure you are speaking with a legitimate enforcement agent before continuing communication. Information on how to protect yourself from imposters is available here.

Other items and equipment that enforcement agents will not take control of are those that are considered essential use personal use or for your employment, business, trade, profession, study or education up to a value of £1,350. This can include vehicles, but there is a difference between an vehicle that is classed as a tool of the trade compared to one used to get to work.

For a vehicle to be considered as a tool of the trade you must be able to show that it is vital for both operating your business and is solely used for business purposes. This can often be evidenced by insurance documentation showing the vehicle is insured for business purposes only. A vehicle that is displaying a valid Blue Badge and used for the transportation needs of a disabled person will also never be removed.

A vehicle used for commuting to and from work is not a tool of trade. Vehicles tend to raise significantly more at auction than household goods, so cars are the most common goods to be seized. However, it’s not often that a case progresses to sale at auction because people prefer to pay what they owe.

As well as pets and qualifying vehicles, a certified enforcement agent will never list clothes, beds, bedding, furniture, household equipment or anything required for the basic domestic needs of every member of the household. Cookers or microwaves, fridge, washing machine, dining table and chairs are also exempt, as are land line telephone/mobile phones, sufficient lighting and heating facilities, safety and security equipment (burglar alarms, locks and CCTV systems), medical equipment and items needed for the care of a child or elderly person.

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