Bailiffs - what are my rights?

Bailiff Law is very complex. The information on this page is intended to give you an introduction to your rights.

If Bailiffs have not been inside your home before...
They have no right to come in or break in. You do not have to let them in.


  • Open the door - they may try to push past you.
  • Leave windows open or doors unlocked - the law
    allows bailiffs to get in through these.
  • Sign any papers - you do not have to do this.

Phone us for advice immediately. Bailiffs cannot get the police to help them break in. Some bailiffs may leave you a phone number, and arrange to come round to 'have a chat'. Don't let them in, even if they say it's only to use the toilet or make a phone call.

Bailiffs may try to break into sheds, garages, greenhouses etc. - even though this is against the law. They may have the right to take cars, motorbikes and other vehicles parked near your home.

Politely but firmly refuse to let the bailiffs in & call us for free, expert advice on 0800 028 4422 - lines open 9am - 7pm Mon - Fri and 9am - 1pm Sat.

Bailiffs have already been inside my home
Once you have let them in, Bailiffs have the right to return to your home. If you don't let them in, they are allowed to break in.

  • Contact the bailiffs straight away and make an offer to
    pay the debt in instalments.
  • Show them your personal budget so they can see you
    are offering as much as you can afford.
  • Treat this as a priority - bailiffs can come back and take
    your possessions if you don't pay.
  • Always get a receipt when you do pay.
  • Call us - we may be able to help get the debt taken
    back from the Bailiffs.

What are the Bailiffs allowed to take?
The Law says that Bailiffs cannot take goods that are rented or hired.

This includes goods on hire purchase agreements. Show them a copy of your hire or credit agreement if you can. If the bailiffs insist on taking the goods, phone us for advice immediately.

The Law says that Bailiffs don't have the right to take:

  • "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."

This list is not very specific so you may find that Bailiffs have a different idea of what items are necessary for you to keep and what they can take.

You can complain about what the bailiffs take if you feel the items should have been exempt.

The bailiffs can only take things, which belong to you, and/or goods, which are jointly owned by you and your partner. If they want to take goods that belong to someone else (your children, partner, lodgers etc.) explain that the goods do not belong to you. If you can, show a receipt or note as proof.