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Can the bailiff who evicts a tenant seize goods?

bailiffHere is a question to the blog clinic from Robina (not her real name) who is a landlord

I was recently told by a judge that if a tenant is evicted for private (not commercial) rent arrears, the bailiff who carries out the eviction has the right to seize any of the tenant’s goods that are present in the property at the time of the eviction (and sell them and apply the proceeds toward the rent arrears).

I am curious as to whether, if this is true and the bailiff did not seize any of the goods, that can later be used as a valid argument or evidence even in deciding that the tenant’s goods were without value.

The court bailiffs do have the right to do this but in evictions they very rarely do.  Probably the main reason for this is that most landlords are just concerned to get their property back.

Levying execution on goods is not a very good way to recover a debt, not in most evicting tenant situations anyway.  Tenant’s who are being evicted for rent arrears rarely have anything of value.

If you bear in mind that certain goods the bailiffs cannot sieze anyway (I can’t remember the details but its something like personal clothes, household necessites and the tools of their trade), then that does not normally leave very much.

Add to that the fact that the judgement creditor (ie the landlord in this situation) is personally  responsible for the bailiffs’ costs of removing and storing items pending sale and the fact that the sale price of goods at these auctions rarely come anywhere near the value they would have had new – and you will often have a situation where the landlord will end up paying hefty sums of money to the bailiffs.

As regards the second part of your question, the bailiffs are not valuers and any failure to levy execution on goods should not be taken as an indication of their value.

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About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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