How to get money you are owed

Seizing the debtor’s goods

Once you have been granted a warrant of seizure and sale by the court, you can request a bailiff to take and sell the debtor’s goods to pay the debt, plus any costs and interest.

What the bailiff does 

The bailiff will visit the debtor's home to explain the process. 

They can only take personal property of the debtor's that they fully own. 

This includes:

  • money
  • furniture
  • televisions
  • electrical appliances
  • cars.

They cannot take items that are any of the following:

  • belong to someone else
  • rented or are on hire purchase
  • are jointly owned with a spouse or relative.

The debtor can keep essential goods for living and work, such as clothing and tools of the trade.

Seizing goods without taking them away 

A bailiff can seize goods without actually taking them away. Often they will leave them at the debtor’s house while a sale is arranged. 

The bailiff must leave a notice of seizure on the goods or on the land they were seized on. Seized property must be advertised for sale in a local newspaper and sold at public auction or by tender. 

The debtor can take the goods back by paying the bailiff the amount being claimed at any time before they are sold. 

However, the debtor must also pay the cost of:

  • seizing
  • advertising
  • arranging the sale. 

Sale of land 

A warrant may allow a bailiff to sell the debtor’s land. The bailiff must follow special procedures before they advertise land for sale.

If the debtor has little or no property

The warrant to seize property remains in force for 12 months. You can apply to the bailiff during this time to make another attempt to seize goods.

What a debtor can do

To prevent the bailiff from seizing property, the debtor must immediately seek an instalment order.

If they don’t owe the money or the amount is wrong, they can ask the bailiff to delay while they contact the creditor to check the facts. 

If the bailiff will not delay, they can apply to the court for a stay of enforcement.

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Last updated: 18 June 2015

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