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Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013 (the “Regulations”)
The new Regulations implements recommendations following a Government consultation on bailiffs, conducted in 2012. They are part of a wider package of reforms, contained within the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, intended to simplify and clarify bailiff enforcement and clamp down on unfair practices by some bailiffs.
The aim of the new Regulations is to bring conformity and clarity to the various forms of enforcement, be it High Court or County Court judgments, council tax, parking fines or commercial rent arrears.
Key changes brought in by the new Regulations include the following:
- Bailiffs will now be banned from entering homes when only children are present;
- Bailiffs will only be allowed to visit and enter properties between 6am and 9pm;
- Bailiffs will also now be prevented from taking household items which are reasonably required to satisfy the basic domestic needs of the debtor or their household, including, for example, their cooker, microwave, refrigerator or washing machine (this is in addition to tools of the debtor’s trade, which bailiffs are also prevented from taking - now up to a maximum value of £1,350);
- Notice of enforcement must be given to debtors seven days before bailiffs attempt to seize goods; and
- Bailiffs must give debtors seven days’ notice before selling goods removed from the debtor.
The new regulations have also changed many of the terms used, in particular:
|Outgoing Term||New Term|
|Writ of fieri facias (fi fa)||Writ of Control|
|Seize||Take control of|
|Seized goods||Controlled goods|
|Walking possession agreement||Controlled goods agreement|
|Abortive fee||Compliance fee|
Do the changes affect social landlords?
The most common situation for social landlords to use the services of a bailiff are when a tenant has not vacated a property following a possession order and a warrant of possession is being executed.
These new Regulations do not impact on warrants of possession as Court Bailiffs have separate powers and duties under warrants of possession which are unchanged.
If a landlord is seeking to enforce a money judgment (either separately to a warrant of possession e.g. to recover former tenancy arrears or at the same time) then the provisions under these Regulations will apply to the element relating to enforcement of the money judgment.
However, in practice it is relatively rare that a social landlord takes action to recover money judgments (i.e for arrears) by way of seizing and subsequently selling goods.
It is worth noting that these Regulations do not impact on a landlord’s obligations under the Torts (Interference with Goods Act) 1977 which remain unchanged.
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