Bailiffs are a type of debt collector with legal powers to remove or sell your goods if you don’t pay. They’re now officially known as Enforcement Agents. You’ll know the bailiffs are coming because you’ll receive a letter explaining this at least a week before their first visit. If a bailiff visits you at home don’t let them in. Make sure your doors are locked. If possible speak to them through a letterbox or a window.
If a bailiff enters your home they may take goods on a first visit. But it’s more common for them to make a list of your goods and make a payment arrangement with you called a ‘Controlled Goods Agreement’. If they do this, you can keep the goods as long as you make the payments you’ve agreed. But if you miss a payment they can come back and remove the goods breaking in if necessary. If they’ve been in and made a list of your goods, do not remove these from your home it’s against the law.
There are some things a bailiff can’t take. They can’t take goods from a family member or a housemate unless they are jointly owned. They’re also not allowed to take goods which are on finance such as a vehicle on a hire purchase agreement. Bailiffs can’t take essential items like clothes, bedding or white goods such as your fridge or washing machine. They also can’t take basic furniture, medical equipment or children’s toys.
They can take anything that’s not deemed as essential and they can take more expensive items of furniture, electrical goods or a vehicle. Even before the bailiff visits, it’s important to contact the court or the creditor to negotiate directly with them. If you can come to an arrangement to pay the debt you may be able to avoid a bailiff visit. Even after a bailiff has been, it may be possible to arrange a payment or get the bailiff action halted.