Can Bailiffs Take Pets?


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Janine Marsh
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Janine Marsh

Financial Expert

My name’s Janine, and I’m a mum of two who’s always been passionate about trying to cut down spending costs. I am now sharing as much financial knowledge as I possibly can to help your money go that little bit further.

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- Financial Expert
Updated 12 November 2023

For free & impartial money advice you can visit MoneyHelper. We work with The Debt Advice Service who provide information about your options. This isn’t a full fact-find, some debt solutions may not be suitable in all circumstances, ongoing fees might apply & your credit rating may be affected.

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Can bailiffs take pets? What are the rules on what they can take? If you’re waiting for a visit from enforcement agents, these are two questions you may like answered.

I look at what bailiffs can do/take and what they can’t do/take in my post so you’re well prepared for their visit.

Read on to find out more!

What are bailiffs?

Bailiffs are now known as enforcement agents and a scheduled visit from them can be unnerving, to say the least.

It’s why you should know your rights and how to deal with bailiffs when they show up at your door.

A bailiff has the right to take specific possessions when they are collecting a debt that’s gone unpaid.

But a court must appoint them to carry out the task. In short, there must be a judgement or a court order for a bailiff to seize your possessions.

Do you have to pay?

There are ways to have debt written off in the UK.

If you genuinely can’t afford your debt repayments then looking into whether you could have your payments lowered or written off might be just what you need. 

If you want to find out whether you qualify for having debt written off or payments lowered then fill out the short form below.


Can you write off any of your debt?

1 of 5

How much debt do you have?

This isn’t a full fact find, Thrifty Family doesn’t give advice. We work with The Debt Advice Service who provides information about your options. 

What does a bailiff visit involve?

The process involved when bailiffs get involved over an outstanding debt is as follows:

  • A creditor instructs a court-appointed bailiff to act on their behalf by way of a “warrant of control”
  • The bailiff sends you a “notice of enforcement” which details the reason for their visit
  • You may want to pay the outstanding debt or agree to a payment plan within 7 days of getting the notice to prevent the bailiff visit

A bailiff may try to gain entry into your home on their first visit to make a list of goods they could seize. But rarely would this happen on a first visit. The key is not to let a bailiff into your home!

When can the bailiffs visit you at home?

Bailiffs can only visit you at home between the hours of 6 am and 9 pm. Moreover, they can only visit you at other times if they’ve been granted a warrant from the courts.

That said if they are visiting business premises which are open outside of the set hours, they can visit you outside of the set hours.

Also, bailiffs can visit you at home on any day of the week. However, they should prevent visiting you on cultural or religious festivals unless necessary.

Can you lower your repayments?

If you’re struggling to pay back your debt, then you might qualify for a debt solution.

Some solutions lower your monthly payments while others write off a portion of your debt


To find out whether they could work in your situation, hit the button below.

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Where can bailiffs visit you?

Bailiffs can lawfully visit all properties in England and Wales. This applies to residential properties and business premises.

That said, enforcement agents can also visit another person’s property if your possessions are stored there. But they must apply for a court warrant before they do.

A bailiff could visit you when you are at work unless you are self-employed and work from home.

They are also allowed to seize items left on a public road which includes vehicles. 

It’s worth noting that some enforcement agents can use automatic number plate recognition to identify what vehicles you own.

Check out what happened to one person who posted this message on a popular forum:

Where can bailiffs visit you?

Source: Moneysavingexpert

How many times can bailiffs visit you in a day?

Bailiffs can only visit you 3 times at the most in a single day to collect a debt. However, when you’re not home, a bailiff may visit you more often in a single day.

After several failed visits, further legal action will begin!

What if you don’t let the bailiffs into your home?

If you don’t let bailiffs into your home on their first visit, they’ll typically return at a later date.

Enforcement agents can apply to the court for a warrant to force entry but only if you refuse to let them in. Moreover, it only applies to specific debts and circumstances.

It typically only applies to HMRC and Magistrate court debts!

When can bailiffs apply for a warrant to force entry?

Enforcement agents can only apply for a warrant to force their way into your home for a CCJ if:

  • The judgement relates to a business address, or
  • Items already taken into ‘control’ are purposefully moved to another location to prevent them from being seized

Could bailiffs force entry with a qualified locksmith?

Yes. If a bailiff has the warrant to force entry into your home, they should use a qualified locksmith to open a front door.

Without a court warrant, a bailiff can’t break into your home even with the assistance of a qualified locksmith!

Can high court enforcement officers take pets?

High court enforcement officers can lawfully seize items that belong to you when the debt they’re enforcing is yours!

For example, they could take items you own. They can also take items you own jointly with another person.

This could include the following:

  • Vehicles
  • Jewellery
  • Electrical items

But they can’t take pets!

Do you get a warning before bailiffs?

Yes. You should get a letter from the bailiffs warning you about an intended visit. 

Don’t ignore the ‘notice of enforcement’ because if you do, enforcement agents will arrive 7 days later anyway.

What should you do about a bailiff visit?

If you’ve received a ‘notice of enforcement’, you should prepare yourself for a bailiff’s visit.

That said, you shouldn’t let them into your home when they arrive!

There have been changes to the rules that apply to bailiffs which I’ve listed below:

  • An enforcement agent doesn’t have to enter your home to ‘take control of goods’
  • A bailiff can list any goods they can see through the window
  • You could opt to close the blinds and curtains before a visit from bailiffs
  • You may want to move high-value items so they are hidden out of sight
  • When bailiffs list any goods they see through a window, it’s up to you whether you sign a ‘controlled goods agreement’.

What happens when you don’t sign the controlled goods agreement?

A bailiff can’t force their way into your home when you don’t agree to sign a controlled goods agreement.

Moreover, enforcement agents can’t take any items unless you let them into your home.

Plus, you can file a complaint against bailiffs if they attempt to take control of goods without entering your property!

How do you complain about bailiffs?

First, check who is the claimant. This is the ‘creditor’ and file a complaint with them. Next, send a copy of the complaint letter to the bailiff.

I’ve listed how to complain to various creditors you could owe money to in the table below:

Debt owed Links
 Council tax debt   Find your council link
 Unpaid Penalty Charge Notice   Find your council link
 Unpaid Parking Charge Notice   Government court finder
 Unpaid Magistrates Court fine   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?

Enforcement agents can force entry into your home to collect the following:

  • Tax or Stamp duty
  • Unpaid criminal fines

That said, bailiffs are only supposed to force their way into properties as a last resort.

But it’s worth noting they can seize items from outside your home which includes vehicles!

Also, bailiffs can’t force entry for a council tax debt!

Can bailiffs take pets?

Bailiffs must follow strict rules when debt collecting. Even if there’s a court order for you to pay an outstanding debt.

For example, an enforcement agent can’t seize or take items that belong to you if they’re collecting someone else’s debt.

Nor can they take items that belong to your child and vice versa.

Among the possessions, an enforcement agent can’t touch when they’re collecting a debt you owe includes:

  • Pets
  • Guide dogs

Other items that are out of bounds to bailiffs when they’re collecting debts include:

  • Vehicles, computers, and tools needed for work purposes or for study purposes to the total value of £1,350
  • Mobility vehicles or vehicles that display a valid Blue Badge
  • Goods purchased on HP
  • Items needed so you can meet your basic domestic needs
  • Items that are fitted or attached permanently to your home

Can bailiffs force entry after taking control of goods through a window?

No. As mentioned, bailiffs must make a peaceable entry before they can force their way into your home.

In short, if they take control of goods through the window, they can’t then force their way into the property to seize the items.

Can a bailiff make a control of goods agreement without you?

No. You have to sign the control of goods agreement and so does the bailiff. It means that if they made the list of goods through a window, an enforcement agent can’t then post it through your letterbox.

In short, you must be there when a control of goods agreement is put in place.

“It will only get worse” 😩

It’s cliché to say, but with debt it’s true; the longer you leave it, the worse the problem gets

There are straightforward and effective ways to deal with debt, but you have to know your options. 

Fill out the short form to find out about the debt solutions that could reduce your monthly payments or even write off some of your debt.

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Can bailiffs take pets UK? RECAP

Bailiffs can definitely not take your pets. Any family pets are out of bounds as are many other items commonly found in a home. 

Knowing your rights and what bailiffs can and cannot take prepares you for a visit so the experience is less stressful. In short, an enforcement agent must respect the rules and how to act when they contact and visit you over an unpaid debt.

The authors
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My name’s Janine, and I’m a mum of two who’s always been passionate about trying to cut down spending costs. I am now sharing as much financial knowledge as I possibly can to help your money go that little bit further.
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