Taking Possession of Goods
Bailiffs can take possession of your belongings to repay debts but there are ways to prevent possession and to reclaim your belongings before they are sold.
When a bailiff takes possession of your belongings they are attempting to recover goods to the value of the debt owed. The Bailiff must give you certain information during this process and may need to instruct specialist valuers to value certain items if the bailiff is not qualified to do so.
Valuing Your Belongings
When a bailiff values your belongings they must provide a written valuation to you or to you and anyone you jointly own any of the items with.
The bailiff will take your items away to conduct the valuation. It must include the bailiffs name, the bailiff's reference number and the date on which the valuation was made.
If you disagree with the valuation, the bailiff must give you the opportunity to conduct an independent valuation.
Selling Your Belongings
Once your belongings have been valued the bailiff attempts to sell the goods in order to raise the funds needed to pay off the debt and the bailiff's fees.
The bailiff is obliged to get the best possible price for the goods but can sell the goods in a variety of different ways.
Usually your goods will be sold at auction. This could be through an online auction or at a public auction. The auction must be carried out by an independent online auctioneer or a qualified auctioneer.
Sometimes bailiffs will want to use other means to sell your goods if they think they can get more funds for the goods than they would otherwise get by auctioning them. To do this, bailiffs must write to the courts and ask permission to sell by the following means:
- By advertising the goods for sale and inviting offers,
- By inviting sealed bids,
- Through private contract.
How long before my goods are sold?
Once your goods have been valued, they will be sold. There must be at least 7 days between taking your goods and selling them. An exception is sometimes taken where waiting would reduce the value of the goods.
Your goods must be sold within 12 months of them being taken, however, this period may be extended if your creditor and you agree to it in writing.
Unsold goods and getting your goods back
Sometimes the goods bailiffs take and try to sell do not sell. In this case, the bailiff must try to sell the items again.
If they cannot be sold the bailiff has 12 months in which to sell the goods. If the goods cannot be sold within 12 months they become 'abandoned goods' and you will be able to reclaim them. The bailiff must write to you to instruct you on how to reclaim your belongings and where from.
You can try to buy your belongings back but you will have to pay the best possible price. You can also try to get your belongings back by paying what you owe to your creditor including the bailiff's fees.