Check what bailiffs can take
Bailiffs (also called ‘enforcement agents’) could take your belongings if they’re collecting a debt you haven’t paid.
They can take things you own or that you own jointly with someone else - for example electrical items, jewellery or a vehicle.
Bailiffs can only take things from inside your home if you let them in - find out how to keep them out.
There are rules about what they can't take - if they break the rules you can complain and get your belongings back.
If the bailiffs are collecting someone else's debt they can't take anything that belongs to you. Check how to stop bailiffs if it's not your debt.
Belongings bailiffs can’t take
Bailiffs can’t take:
- things that belong to other people - this includes things that belong to your children
- pets or guide dogs
- vehicles, tools or computer equipment you need for your job or for study, up to a total value of £1,350
- a Motability vehicle or a vehicle displaying a valid Blue Badge
Things you need to live
Bailiffs can’t take things you need to live - these are things you use for your ‘basic domestic needs’.
They have to leave you with:
- a table and enough chairs for everyone living in your home
- beds and bedding for everyone living in your home
- a cooker or microwave and a fridge
- a washing machine
- a phone or mobile phone
- any medicine or medical equipment and anything you need to care for a child or older person
Stop bailiffs taking things they shouldn’t
If a bailiff takes something or lists it on a 'controlled goods agreement', show them evidence that proves they can't.
If you have this evidence when they're in your home you should show it to them then.
If they take something they shouldn't you'll need to complain and provide evidence proving why they shouldn't have taken it.
If it's something that belongs to someone else
Things that belong to someone else are called 'third-party goods'. If a bailiff takes third-party goods, you’ll need to contact the person they belong to.
Ask the person who owns the goods if they can contact the bailiffs to prove they own them. They could use bills or credit card receipts, for example an order form with their name on it.
If bailiffs try to take someone else’s vehicle, ask the vehicle’s owner to contact the DVLA to show that they’re the registered owner.
If it's something you need for work or study
Anything you need for work or study up to the value of £1,350 is known as ‘exempt’.
If bailiffs take something you need for work show them order forms or invoices and explain why you need it.
Prove your things are worth less than £1,350 by showing receipts or looking online at websites like eBay.
If bailiffs take your vehicle and you need it for work you could show invoices or order forms if you use it to carry tools to a job. Show proof of employment if you need the vehicle to get to your office.
If you need something for study show enrolment documents from your course.
If it's something you’re paying for on finance
Whether or not bailiffs can take something you’re paying for on finance depends on the type of agreement you have. If you’re not sure what type of agreement it is, contact the company you made the agreement with.
With some types of finance agreements, like hire purchase or conditional sale, you don’t own the item until you’ve made the last payment. If you haven’t made the last payment yet, the item will still belong to the person or company you bought it from.
Bailiffs can’t usually take goods you’ve bought with this type of finance agreement, but the law is complicated.
Get help from your nearest Citizens Advice if bailiffs try to take something you’ve bought in this way.
If you bought a vehicle using hire purchase, a personal contract or conditional sale, find out what to do next if bailiffs say they might take it.
If it's a Motability vehicle or a vehicle displaying a valid Blue Badge
Show any documents you have with dates proving that you have a valid Blue Badge for your vehicle.
Show your approved application documents to prove your vehicle is part of the Motability Scheme. It’s owned by the Motability Scheme and counts as ‘third party goods’.
Complain if bailiffs take something they shouldn’t
You should complain within 7 days if bailiffs take something they shouldn’t or list it on a controlled goods agreement. The bailiffs must respond to you within 10 days.
If the bailiffs take something you own
If the bailiff shouldn’t have taken it it’s known as ‘exempt goods’. You need to complain. Contact the bailiff with evidence about why they shouldn’t take it - explain why the goods are exempt.
If the bailiff refuses to return the item you should complain to the 'creditor'. This is the person or company you owe money to. Send them evidence explaining why they shouldn’t have taken it.
If the bailiffs take something that belongs to someone else
- things that belong to other people
- anything you’re still paying for on finance
- Motability scheme vehicles
Anything that belongs to someone else is known as ‘third party goods’.
The person or company who owns the item needs to complain as soon as possible. They should contact the bailiff’s company and send evidence that it belongs to them - either by stating that they own it or by including proof of purchase if possible.
If the bailiff refuses to return it the owner should complain to the 'creditor'. This is the person or company you owe money to.