WHAT GOODS CAN A BAILIFF TAKE FROM MY HOME?
It is important to note that in just one, maybe two cases in every 100 will a bailiff actually
take goods. This is because the mere threat is normally sufficient
to force the owner to find the money, either, by borrowing or
using funds that are necessary for day to day living.
By law, a bailiff will be coming to your home to enforce
a warrant by levying on goods……the
truth however, is that he would much prefer full payment of the
debt….. and his costs.
From a bailiffs point of view, although he may well arrive at
your home in a removals type of vehicle, he really doesn’t
want basic household furniture. This is because; the resale value
at public auction is very low. Additionally, health
and safety regulations commonly prevent electrical goods
from being seized, in the same way that fireproofing
regulations prevent soft furnishings, such as sofa’s etc
actually being taken.
A bailiff is only allowed to take
sufficient goods to cover the outstanding bill and his costs.
For Child Support Agency arrears there are different items that the bailiff
can and cannot take. Please refer to the Child Support Agency
part of our site for further details.
Statutory Regulations state that
the following items are exempt and
must not be taken.
• "Such tools, books, vehicles and other items of
equipment as are necessary for use personally in employment,
business or vocation"
• "Such clothing, bedding, furniture, household equipment
and provisions as are necessary for
satisfying basic domestic needs of the person and family".
Because the above list is so vague, and not very specific, we
have reviewed over 75 contracts between
local authorities and their relevant bailiff companies to see
what items are listed by the majority of
councils as being exempt. These
items are as follows:
• Goods of minimal or no resale value
• Food items, cooking utensils
• Items that would leave family unable to prepare a hot
• Heating appliances
• Children’s items, toys, prams (but
computers and bikes can be taken)
• Disability items to be used to care for the sick.
• Medical aids or medical equipment.
• Items purchased using money from Social Fund.
• The main form of cooking: if you have a cooker and
microwave, the bailiff could take
the microwave. If you only have a
microwave then this must not be seized.
• Washing machine, vacuum cleaner.
• Personal items: such as family photographs/pictures.
• Items of minimal value, and or broken items.
• Goods either rented, or hired.
Items that are actually attached
are also exempt from seizure. This
would include built in ovens, flat screen televisions or stereo
systems attached to the wall.
If bailiffs have removed items that are exempt, you will find
that in our Legal Case section of
our Downloads area we are providing
details of a very important legal case that has been relied upon
in many court cases. In addition, in our Letters
section of our Downloads area
you will also see that we have compiled a letter that can be sent
to the local authority as a complaint that details the relevant
legal ruling. This letter can be adapted to suit your own personal
It is important to remember that the onus of proof is on the
owner of the goods seized to show that they are exempt
because they fall in any particular category. However, the courts
have decided that bailiffs have a duty of
care that they must exercise when seizing goods and that
when a bailiff is put on notice that items do not belong to the
debtor, then they must act with caution,
and try to seize other items if at all possible.
CAN I GIVE GOODS AWAY BEFORE A BAILIFF ARRIVES?
Yes …….you have every
right to protect your goods and assets.
As long as you remove goods before
a bailiff arrives, there is nothing whatsoever illegal in this.
A bailiff is allowed to levy anywhere in England & Wales on
goods of yours that he can find, but it would be almost impossible
to discover where the goods are located….unless you are
going to tell him!!!
In the first instance, the most common way to protect your assets
is to transfer them to a relative, children, friends etc. This
has the effect of putting your assets beyond the reach of creditors.
There are 2 problems that could arise. The first being that there
is an offence called “fraudulent removal”. This is
contained under the Distress for Rent Act and is where a tenant
has deliberately taken assets from the premises with the effect
that there are insufficient goods to satisfy the levy.
In this particular instance the landlord, if he knew of the removal,
could try to pursue those assets. However he would only be able
to do this within thirty days of the
removal. Therefore, if you are not a tenant and the landlord is
not the person taking action against you…you can give goods
If a bailiff has only taken exempt goods,
this will mean that the entire levy is seen as illegal
and the bailiff will be seen to have committed an
act of trespass.
If some exempt goods have been seized….along
with items that are lawfully allowed
to be taken, then it can be seen that the levy is only trespass
and lawful in only so far as the exempt assets are concerned.
We have provided a more detailed explanation of this in our section
entitled: BAILIFF OFFENCES.
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