What can and cannot be taken by Enforcement Agents (Bailiffs)?

What can and cannot be taken by Enforcement Agents (Bailiffs)?

Around 40% of overdue Council Tax debt is collected at the Compliance Stage before a visit ever takes place. Paying what is owed early means local authorities recover funds quicker and people in debt can get their finances back on track.

Even in cases where an enforcement agent attends a property to discuss outstanding debt, it is very rare for goods to actually be removed. For most people the prospect of their belongings being seized is sufficient motivation for payment to be made. In cases where goods are removed, it is most often high-value property like vehicles, caravans, boats and luxury items, unless the debt is against commercial premises (because businesses often own expensive equipment for their trade).

Enforcement agents will usually clamp a vehicle and give at least two hours’ notice before removing it, unless payment is made or a part payment agreed.

Enforcement agents can only take control of certain goods and they must complete an inventory listing the items before they are taken away. The agent may consider a Controlled Goods Agreement which leaves the goods in place subject to an arrangement for payment being agreed. The goods cannot be removed or sold because there are legally the property of the courts.

Agents will not take control of items which are required to satisfy your basic domestic needs. Items that are exempt from being taken include:

  • Clothes
  • Beds and bedding
  • Furniture such as sofas, dining tables and chairs
  • Household equipment
  • Cookers, Ovens or Microwaves
  • Fridges and Freezers
  • Washing Machines
  • Landline telephones or Mobile phones (if there is no landline handset)
  • Sufficient lighting and heating facilities to meet basic needs
  • Medical equipment and items needed for the care of a child or elderly person.
  • Safety and security equipment such as burglar alarms, locks and CCTV
  • Domestic pets and guide dogs
  • A vehicle displaying a valid Blue Badge
  • Equipment necessary for employment, business, trade, profession, study or education up to a value of £1,350

Remember, the latter enforcement stages are expensive for enforcement firms who are required to employ agents, hire vehicles and operate sophisticated tracking and body-worn video cameras. Higher fees are applied to the enforcement visit stage to reflect this, but efforts are made to avoid this wherever possible. It is in neither party’s interest to increase the total amount of debt owed because this makes it harder to resolve debt quickly.

The key to sorting out any debt problems is talking. Enforcement agents would prefer not to take away your belongings. They are trained to listen and help you to find a reasonable way to pay what you owe.

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