Read Time 5 Minutes, 20 Seconds

Dealing with bailiffs can be daunting. Among the many concerns, many wonder, “Can bailiffs take pets?” and “How many times can a bailiff visit?”. This guide aims to dispel myths and arm you with knowledge.
Trable of Contents

Warren Marshall
Last updated on 9 October 2023
Fact Checked

Table of Contents

1. What are Bailiffs?
2. What does a bailiff visit involve?
3. When can Bailiffs Visit You At Home?
4. Where can bailiffs visit you?
5. How Often Can A Bailiff Visit Your Home?
6. What if you Decline Entry into Your Home?
7. When can bailiffs apply for a warrant to force entry?
8. Could bailiffs force entry with a qualified locksmith?
9. Can High Court Enforcement Officers Take Pets?
10. Do You Get a Warning Before Bailiffs Arrive?
11. Preparing for the Visit
12. Not Signing the Agreement?
13. Raising a Complaint
14. When Can Bailiffs Force Entry Into Your Home
15. What Can Bailiffs Do If I’m Vulnerable?
16. Can Bailiffs Take Pets?
17. Can a Bailiff Take Control of the Goods Agreement Without You?
18. Can Bailiffs Take Pets UK? RECAP
19. How Do I Avoid Bailiffs?
20. Where Can I Get Professional Advice?
21. Key Points


If you’re expecting a visit from enforcement agents, you might be seeking answers to these queries.

1. Do bailiffs have the authority to seize pets?
2. What are the regulations concerning their possessions?

With this post, you can examine the scope of bailiffs’ actions and possessions they are restricted from taking so that you can be adequately informed of their arrival.

Continue reading to learn more!

What are Bailiffs?

Also known as enforcement agents, bailiffs come into the picture when a debt remains unpaid in order to seize goods. However, they need a court order or judgment to act.

When bailiffs show up at your house, they have the right to take specific assets when they are collecting a debt. But in order to carry out the task, a court should appoint them. Simply, they should have a court order or judgment in hand for a bailiff to seize assets.

What does a bailiff visit involve?

A few things you should know about a bailiff’s visit include:

  • First, the creditor gives bailiffs a green signal through a “warrant of control.”
  • You get a “notice of enforcement” detailing their reason for visiting to your home due dating 7 days ahead.
  • If you’re keen on avoiding their visit, clearing the debt or agreeing to a payment plan within seven days might be your best move.

Bailiffs may attempt to gain entry to your home during their initial visit to create an inventory of items they could potentially seize. However, such occurrences are infrequent during a first visit. Therefore it is a crucial point to remember to avoid allowing a bailiff access to your home!

When can Bailiffs Visit You At Home?

Bailiffs stick to the timeframe of 6 am to 9 pm. But exceptions exist, especially for businesses operating beyond these hours. If they’re visiting business premises which are open outside of the 6 am to 9 pm timeframe, they can visit outside of these set hours.

They can also visit on any day unless it’s a significant cultural or religious festival. Note that they can come to your home at other times only if they have a warrant from the court.

Where can bailiffs visit you?

Bailiffs are not confined to just your home or business in England and Wales. If your belongings are somewhere else, they might just knock there. But remember, they need a court warrant for such moves.

A bailiff can also visit you when you’re at work unless you work from home or are self-employed. They can also seize your vehicle if it’s on a public road. If your vehicle is on the street, some even use technology like automatic number plate recognition.

How Often Can A Bailiff Visit Your Home?

Bailiffs can knock on your door as much as three times a day. But note that there is a limit, and they should abide by the law when handling debtors. However, if you don’t cooperate, legal actions might intensify.

What if you Decline Entry into Your Home?

If you turn them away on their first visit, expect a return on another day. While they might seek a warrant to force entry, it’s specific to certain debts and situations, mainly revolving around HMRC and Magistrate court debts.

When can bailiffs apply for a warrant to force entry?

Enforcement agents are only eligible to request a warrant that allows them to enter your residence for the purpose of enforcing a CCJ if one of the following conditions is met:

1. The judgment pertains to a business address.
2. Items that have already been placed under ‘control’ are deliberately relocated to another location in order to prevent their seizure.

Could bailiffs force entry with a qualified locksmith?

YES, they are authorised to engage a qualified locksmith to open the front door if a bailiff possesses a court-issued warrant to enter your home forcefully.

It’s essential to note that a bailiff cannot lawfully break into your home without having a court warrant in hand, even with the help of a qualified locksmith.

Can High Court Enforcement Officers Take Pets?

No. High court enforcement officers, or HCEOs, can take your car, jewellery or other items, but they can’t take your pets. They can lawfully seize items you own, even if you own something jointly with another person, but pets are off-limits.

Do You Get a Warning Before Bailiffs Arrive?

Yes. You will receive a letter from the bailiffs stating that they will be visiting your home. Avoid ignoring this letter. If you ignore it, bailiffs will arrive at your home after seven days anyway.

Preparing for the Visit

After receiving a notice of enforcement letter, prepare for the bailiffs to visit your home in 7 days. Once they arrive, you have the right to not let them in.

  • They don’t need to step in to list your goods and take ‘control of goods’.
  • They can list any Items in plain view, say through a window. So, drawing those curtains might be wise.
  • Keep high-value items out of sight.
  • If they jot down what they see, it’s on you to sign a ‘controlled goods agreement’.

Not Signing the Agreement?

If you decline to sign a controlled goods agreement, they can’t barge in. And without entry, they can’t take your items. If they try, that’s a complaint right there.

Raising a Complaint

Unhappy with a bailiff? First, pinpoint the creditor. Lodge your complaint with them and share a copy with the bailiff.

If you’re unsure about whom to address, here’s a quick guide:

Debt owed Links
Unpaid Penalty Charge Notice Find your council link
Council tax debt Find your council link
Unpaid Magistrates Court fine Government court finder
Unpaid Parking Charge Notice Government court finder
Unpaid CCJ Government court finder
Unpaid income tax, VAT, National Ins Complaints to HMRC
Unpaid child support Find your local DWP

When Can Bailiffs Force Entry Into Your Home

There are rare scenarios where they can push their way in.

This includes:

  • Unpaid criminal fines
  • Tax
  • Stamp duty

Yet, it’s the last resort. And while they can grab items outside, like your car, remember: they can’t force in for a council tax debt.

What Can Bailiffs Do If I’m Vulnerable?

Being in a vulnerable state can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with bailiffs. Fortunately, the legal system recognises this and has specific provisions for such individuals.

Understanding Vulnerability

Firstly, if you’re deemed vulnerable, you’re not alone. Many find themselves in situations that warrant extra protection.

Such individuals include:

  • The elderly or very young
  • Those with physical or mental disabilities
  • uPregnant women or those with young children
  • People experiencing extreme stress, perhaps due to a recent loss

  • Those for whom English isn’t a first language

If any of these describe you, note that the legal system ensures that your interaction with bailiffs is adjusted to be less distressing.

Your Rights as a Vulnerable Individual

Vulnerable gives you some additional rights. For instance, you can be granted more time to respond to a notice. Furthermore, you can also have visits from bailiffs halted or rescheduled, ensuring that they don’t aggravate your situation.

It’s essential to communicate your vulnerability to the bailiffs or have someone trusted to do it for you. This will help in having arrangements tailored to your needs. So, when you talk to the bailiffs, you should:

  • Inform them that you are vulnerable
  • Explain why you find dealing with bailiffs more difficult in comparison to other people in your situation.
  • Request them to stop visiting you, stating that it will cause harm and distress to you.
  • Inform them if a visit or a letter could worsen your situation. This includes situations where you have a heart condition or a mental health problem.

Note down what you agree with the bailiffs when it comes to them dealing with you in the future. So, in a case where they don’t stick to the agreement, this will make it easier for you to argue and make a complaint.

Can Bailiffs Take Pets?

No. In the UK, regardless of the size of the debt or the reason behind it, bailiffs cannot seize pets or guide dogs. It’s a relief for countless pet owners who might be dealing with debt issues. Your furry companions are safe and unaffected.

But there’s more. Not just pets, but there’s a comprehensive list of items that bailiffs can’t touch. This list exists to protect the basic dignity and needs of individuals, ensuring that while debts might be pursued, fundamental human rights aren’t compromised.

Some items that bailiffs cannot seize include:

  • Tools, computers, and vehicles required for work or studies to the total value of £1,350
  • Goods purchased on HP
  • Mobility vehicles or vehicles that display a valid Blue Badge
  • Items required to meet your basic domestic needs
  • Items attached or fitted permanently to your home.
Can bailiffs force entry after taking control of goods through a window?

No. Bailiffs should enter peacefully before they can forcefully enter your home. So, if they take control of goods through a window, they can’t forcefully enter to seize the items.

Can a Bailiff Take Control of the Goods Agreement Without You?

No. You should sign the control of goods agreement. And the bailiff should also sign it. So, if they made a list of items through a window, they cannot post it to you through your letterbox. This means that you should be there when they put together the control of goods agreement.

Can Bailiffs Take Pets UK? RECAP

No, No matter the circumstances, bailiffs cannot and will not take your pets. This legal protection is a testament to the significance pets hold in our lives.

Because understanding these provisions and protections ensures that, even in stressful situations, individuals know their rights and can make informed decisions. So, next time someone asks, “Can bailiffs take pets?” you know the answer and the reasons behind it.

How Do I Avoid Bailiffs?

The best way to avoid bailiffs is to take up a debt solution. Taking up a debt solution will allow you to write off some of your unaffordable debt. This will help you to see a debt-free future, and questions like “Can bailiffs take pets?” will be far from your mind. So, avoiding bailiffs early on is better than dealing with bailiffs.

Also, opting for a debt solution can greatly help you with your financial situation and significantly reduce your stress levels.

Debt Solutions to Consider

In the UK, numerous debt solutions can shield you from legal action and, in turn, from bailiffs. And here’s the exciting part: there’s a suitable solution for almost everyone. Some debt solutions available in the UK include:

  • Debt Management Plan (DMP): An informal approach allowing you to consolidate debts into one monthly payment. But remember, there’s flexibility since it’s not legally binding.
  • Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA): Think of this as a mutual agreement between you and your creditors. You contribute monthly, and they? They promise to give you peace and not reach out. So, can bailiffs take pets during this time? The answer is a reassuring no.
  • Trust Deed: Exclusive to Scotland, functioning similarly to an IVA. A monthly commitment results in shared payment amongst creditors and keeps those bailiff concerns at bay.
  • Debt Relief Order (DRO): Ideal for those in hardship. For 12 months, no payments and no creditor concerns. Can bailiffs take pets in this period? Once again, you’re safe.
  • Bankruptcy & Sequestration: These are serious steps, often viewed as last resort, but sometimes necessary for a fresh financial start.

Where Can I Get Professional Advice?

Numerous UK charities and organisations specialise in offering guidance when faced with bailiff interventions. Tapping into these resources can be invaluable.

Some debt charities you can reach out to for free advice include:

  • StepChange
  • Citizens Advice
  • Debt Advice Foundation
  • National Debtline

Alternatively, feel free to fill out our online form and check if you’re eligible to get a portion of your debt written off. Our Money Advisor team will guide you on the best course of action.

Key Points

  • Vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly, pregnant women, and those with disabilities, are given added protection when dealing with bailiffs. It’s crucial to communicate your vulnerable status to ensure tailored arrangements.
  • The UK legal framework ensures that no matter the situation, bailiffs cannot take pets. Your furry companions remain safe despite debt issues.
  • It’s not just pets; bailiffs are restricted from seizing various items. This includes guide dogs, essential work tools up to a certain value, and items necessary for basic domestic needs. Being informed helps safeguard your possessions.
  • Bailiffs typically operate between 6 am and 9 pm. They can’t force entry into your home unless under very specific circumstances. Knowing these limits ensures you’re never caught off-guard.
  • It’s possible for bailiffs to take control of listed goods even in your absence. Understanding this aspect helps individuals prepare better and remain informed about potential outcomes.
  • When expecting a bailiff visit, it’s essential to know your rights. Keeping valuable items out of sight and being aware of the items bailiffs can’t touch makes the process less stressful.
  • Many might not be aware. Still, numerous individuals in the UK could legally write off portions of their debt. It’s essential to explore these avenues and seek professional advice if necessary.
  • It’s clear that pets hold significant emotional value for many. It’s reassuring to know that the legal system acknowledges this, ensuring our beloved animals are off-limits.

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