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Debt terms explained: Warrant of Control

When you’re dealing debt with you also have to take on board all the jargon that goes with it. Bills, demands and even statements are full of words and terms that you wouldn’t use in everyday life, but what do they all mean?

One term that we’re often asked about here at Creditfix is a Warrant of Control. Here we shine a light on everything you need to know about Warrant of Control.

What is a Warrant of Control?

It is a legal document that gives enforcement agents (more commonly known as bailiffs) the authority to visit your home or business address to take control of your belongings. Any goods that are seized can then be sold at auction to reclaim the balance owed.

A Warrant of Control has to be awarded by the court. A creditor may apply for this if you have not paid a County Court Judgement (CCJ) that they have previously taken out against you.

How is a Warrant of Control issued?

It is illegal to issue this type of warrant without prior CCJ proceedings. The county court will only award a Warrant of Control if it is applied for by a creditor because you have not made payments to your CCJ.

You will then be sent an enforcement notice that gives you seven days to pay the debt. There will be additional fees that will be charged and added to your debt from the court and from the enforcement agency.

If you do not pay within the seven days, the bailiffs will visit you within 15 days to attempt to take control of your possessions.

How can I stop a Warrant of Control?

You should always pay a CCJ to prevent it from reaching the stage of a Warrant of Control.

However, if it has reached this stage and bailiff action is ongoing or imminent, there are steps you can take to stop or suspend it.

By filling in an N245 form and handing it to the court with the court fee, you can apply to suspend the warrant. The court is unable to refuse your application and they are required to review it; however, bailiffs can still visit your property until the court agrees to the suspension.

What happens now I have received a Warrant of Control?

Once you have received a Warrant of Control, it’s likely that the bailiff action is a likely course of action. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to remember there are strict rules bailiffs have to abide by.

As such, knowing what these rules are can often be the nudge you need to have the confidence to stand your ground when they knock at your door:

1. Working hours

Bailiffs are only allowed to attend your home or business address between 6am-9pm. If an agent turns up outwith these hours, you are within your right to call the police as it is illegal.

2. Forced entry

You do not have to let a bailiff in, and they are only allowed to force their way in if:

  • They have taken control of your goods
  • They have given you notice of at least 48 hours
  • You have let them previously on a different visit
  • The agreement you made with them has been broken.
3. Hire purchase items

Bailiffs are only allowed to take items that you legally own. This means they cannot seize items that are on hire purchase (HP), be this a vehicle or otherwise, as they technically do not belong to you.

You will be required to provide evidence that the items are subject to hire purchase, so it’s always best to have a copy of your contract to hand. The only exception to this rule is if you have completed your HP repayments; in this instance, the item will be considered your property.

4. Item restrictions

It’s often believed that bailiffs can take everything you own, but this is actually not true. Firstly, they are only able to seize items that they have access to, so they cannot take things simply by looking through your letterbox or window.

They will mainly look to take luxury items such as your car, furniture, electrical goods or jewellery, but they will take anything that is considered to be of value and can be sold quickly and easily at auction for a good price.

Items they cannot take include:

  • Basic household items such as your fridge, cooker or washing machine
  • Your mobile phone or landline
  • Medical equipment or items needed for care
  • Pets or assistance animals
  • Equipment or tools that are essential to your work (up to a value of £1,350)
  • Items that you are currently using (however, they can come back to collect these at a later date)
Bailiffs have now come and taken control of my goods, what can I do now?

Once they have seized items, it doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. The agents will place the goods in storage for seven days before sending them to the auction house. You are notified of this by way of a Notice of Sale.

Within this seven-day period, you can contact the company you owe money and arrange to pay the full amount ordered by the court or come to an agreed payment plan.

If the items are sold at auction for a value higher than the balance owed, the remainder will be paid to you.

Have you received a Warrant of Control? Or have the bailiffs already appeared at your door? If so, Creditfix can help. We can offer you free and impartial advice on the options available to you to deal not only with the bailiffs but with your debts too. Call us today on 0808 2234 102. 

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