This article answers the question, can bailiffs take my belongings for someone else’s debt? If a bailiff is listing goods they can only list goods belonging, or jointly belonging, to the person who is named on the order, the person who owes the debt.
Bailiffs cannot list items that are essential to daily life (or for “basic domestic needs”) so they will not list your bed or means to cook food but may list your chest of drawers, or a cupboard as these are not essential. It is possible that they could take some of your chairs as long as they leave enough for every member of your household.
In addition to the above, they cannot take anything that belongs to a child and they cannot take items that are necessary for your work, study or education, up to a total value of £1,350. They cannot take property belonging to someone else. If the debt is for unpaid business rates, in your adult son’s name, then items used for work are not protected.
Now that the goods have been listed they can remove the goods but they may still be willing to come to an arrangement to pay if the value of the goods is for a lot less than the value of the debt.
You should also note that bailiffs are not permitted to force entry to a property for most types of debts (the main exception being Magistrates’ Court fines) unless they have been in previously to take control of goods.
Please note, bailiffs cannot seize any items on hire purchase and that the onus on proving ownership will be with you. You may also find this article on what Marston Group bailiffs can take useful.
Bailiffs cannot take anything that is required for basic domestic living needs. Since you may need your sofa for domestic use, it may not be taken. However, if you own more sofas than required in your household i.e. there are only 2 people in your household and you own 3 sofas. Then the bailiffs may deem the spare sofas unnecessary and these can be taken.
Bailiffs can only take control of the goods that belong to the person who owes the debt and is named on the enforcement notice. Any items that belong to other people, which could be a partner, lodger, children or anyone else, cannot be taken. If goods are jointly owned with someone else they can be taken.
Bailiffs are not allowed to take control of goods belonging to a child. However, if the Xbox or TV were situated in the living room (as opposed to the child’s bedroom) at the time the bailiff entered the property, it may be more difficult to prove ownership of these items. The bailiff should not have seized anything from the children’s bedroom.
If you have proof of purchase for your child’s game console or TV then you can provide this to the bailiff company and advise them that the item belongs to your children. They will then be able to advise you of the process for claiming back your goods.
On the other hand, if your child is an adult and has debts then a games console/machine would be something that could be listed and seized by bailiffs collecting for the debt.
You may also want to read our article on paying off TV license debt.
If you are not the person who owes the debt then you do not have to pay it and they do not have the ability to take your property for someone else’s debt. If the person who owes the debt has their belongings at your property then they will try to gain peaceful entry to seize their property to pay the debt.
Bailiffs act on the paperwork provided to them, if they have a court order that says they need to come to your address then this is the place they will visit. When they arrive at the address they are there to recover the debt owed from the person who owes the debt, they will try to take control of property belonging to the person who owes the debt.
Possessions that are owned only by you cannot be taken to pay for someone else’s debts. If the goods are jointly owned with your partner or were previously owned by your partner, then they could be at risk.
A bailiff, for unsecured debts, cannot take someone else’s goods to cover your debts. If your parents advise the company that you do not live there and they continue to send letters then they can make a complaint to them. It would be up to your parents to prove ownership of their goods, so nothing belonging to them is taken.
A bailiff can only seize goods belonging to the debtor, but the onus is on you or your son to prove ownership. A bailiff is also restricted as to what they can or cannot seize, however they would have a right to look in every room of the house. Therefore it may be possible if ownership is not proved that bailiffs can take the parent’s stuff for their son/daughter’s debt.
A bailiff should not be able to take control of any goods that have not already been detailed under the ‘controlled goods agreement’.
An enforcement agent should not take control of, remove, goods that clearly belong solely to a third party who is not responsible for the debt. If you show the tenancy agreement and the inventory to the bailiff then they should have sufficient proof that the goods belong to someone else and are not available to them. If you cannot provide this then it would be reasonable for them to assume you own the contents of your flat and the Landlord would then have to take action to recover their goods.
As you have paid off the debt then there should be no reason for the bailiffs to return to take control of or seize, any property. If you believe that the enforcement agents have not acted in the correct fashion then you can make a complaint. There are various routes for complaints about bailiffs, you can find the details for this on the Citizens Advice website.
Most prisons do have specialist advisers that you can arrange to see for help with housing problems if you can arrange to see one as soon as possible to see if there is any assistance available to help with your rent. You may also find the fact sheets available on the Citizens Advice website useful.
If you let the bailiffs into the property and allow them to list or “levy” the debtor’s goods then they are able to re-enter the property and seize the goods to repay debts. Once the goods are taken the debtor has 7 days to pay off the debt before the goods are sold. The fact that the debtor was not at the property when the bailiffs called does not matter.
If you want to stop bailiffs, you will need to go to court and pay off the outstanding fine. Also getting a receipt and showing the receipt to the bailiff may be sufficient to end this matter. They cannot seize goods to settle a court fine where the fine no longer exists. It may then be worth taking the documents to your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau to see if they can assist you with contesting the charges that the bailiff has applied.
You could write up an inventory and maybe use a statutory declaration as a method of presenting proofs, you may need to take legal advice on this. This is sometimes used as a means of presenting proof of ownership where bailiffs are collecting for debt. You can read the information on the Citizen’s Advice website. If you are trying to prove ownership as part of an insurance claim then it may be that you have to ask them directly whether they will seek alternative proofs such as bank statements, photos, videos.
In some cases, you will also be able to use handwritten receipts. Some smaller, independent shops do still use handwritten receipts, so there is nothing to say that a handwritten receipt cannot be provided as proof of purchase for any items.
A limited company is a separate legal entity to you, although you may be a shareholder of the company. We would suggest that you push back hard and explain that the goods are not legally yours they belong to the company and taking them is theft.
If the unpaid mobile contract bill has had a court judgment made against it, enforceable by execution (bailiffs) then bailiffs may try to collect on this debt. However, they would have to gain peaceable entry into the property before they can levy goods. Peaceable entry can be implied, however, so it would be advisable to keep all windows and doors locked in this instance.
If bailiffs have gained entry to the property, then they have the right to levy goods and return to the property and force entry (if necessary).
Enforcement Agents are not permitted to take goods that do not belong to the debtor. If they do you should complain to the firm within 7 days.
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