If you have a county court judgment for debt and refuse to pay as the court has ordered, the creditor can request from the court an enforcement order, more commonly known as a ‘warrant of control.’
This warrant gives authorisation to a county court bailiff to seize your possessions in hopes that it will encourage repayment.
In this article we’ll explain what a warrant of control is, how a warrant of control is issued, and what you can do to protect your property from bailiffs if you have a warrant of control issued against you.
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What is a warrant of control?
A warrant of control is a legal document that authorises an enforcement officer to take action to recover debts.
It’s the county court equivalent of a high court enforcement officer using a high court writ to take control of property.
The debts that can be recovered under a warrant of control include unpaid rent, council tax, business rates, and other invoices.
In some cases, an enforcement officer may also take legal action to evict you from your home.
If you are served with a warrant of control, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible.
How is a warrant of control issued?
There are three situations which can lead to a warrant of control being issued:
– If you have failed to repay a CCJ
– If you have breached a court order, such as an order to pay compensation
– If you have not paid an interim County Court order
Failing to repay a County Court Judgment (CCJ)
The most common reason for a warrant of control to be issued is for failing to repay a County Court Judgment.
A County Court Judgment (CCJ) is a legal order issued by the county court when you fail to pay your debt.
A CCJ will list the name of the creditor, the amount owed, and a date by which your debt must be paid.
There are strict rules regarding the payment of a CCJ. If your debt is not paid by the date the court orders, then the court may issue a warrant of control authorising bailiffs to visit your property and seize goods in order to raise the money needed.
A CCJ may also affect other aspects of your life. You may have to appear in court – and pay the associated court fee – and you could also have difficulty obtaining credit in the future.
If you receive a CCJ, it is important to contact your creditor immediately in order to discuss repayment options. Ignoring the problem will only make it worse.
What happens once I receive a warrant of control?
Before a high court enforcement officer or county court bailiff attends your property, they will serve you with a document known as an enforcement notice.
This enforcement notice will provide details of the debt you have failed to repay and give you seven clear days notice of their intention to visit your home.
It will also give you seven days to pay the debt in full in order to prevent an enforcement visit.
Home visit by county court bailiffs
If you do not pay the debt within this time period, an enforcement officer will pay a visit to your home.
County court bailiffs work on the authority of the court, so they have the ability to take goods from your property to the value of the debt owed.
Goods can be seized from your home or business, and you may also be asked to vacate your property in certain situations.
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Can enforcement agents force entry with a warrant of control?
Bailiffs are not allowed to force entry to your home if they only have a writ of execution, however a county court bailiff may be able to enter your home if they have a warrant of control and are therefore visiting to collect goods to sell at auction.
Bailiffs are also not allowed to break into any locked rooms in your home, such as bedrooms or bathrooms.
If you’re not at home when the bailiffs visit, they may try to gain entry by another means, such as through an open window or door.
If the bailiffs do force entry into your home, they must leave immediately if you ask them to do so.
What can an enforcement agent take from my home?
If you have been issued with a warrant of control, the bailiff may visit your property to seize goods in order to sell them at auction and raise the money to pay off your debt.
Items that county court bailiffs can reclaim include:
- Certain furniture
- Games consoles
- Other electronic or luxury goods
What items are off-limits to enforcement agents?
There are certain items that bailiffs are not allowed to take.
These include basic household items such as beds, a dining table, cookers, and fridges; items that belong to someone else; and hire purchase items that are subject to a hire purchase agreement.
In addition, bailiffs must give you at least seven days’ notice before entering your property.
If you’re struggling to repay a debt, you should contact your creditor as soon as possible to discuss your options. Ignoring the problem will only make it worse.
How can I protect my property from a warrant of control?
Controlled goods agreement
To keep the bailiffs from taking control of your belongings, pay off your debts in full. That’s the quickest and most direct way to protect all your property.
If that’s not possible, you can make a ‘controlled goods agreement’ with bailiffs.
This will stop them from removing any more of your belongings.
With this arrangement, you’ll agree to a repayment plan where you pay off the debt in regular installments. In exchange, you’ll be allowed to keep your property.
However, it’s crucial that you keep to the terms of controlled goods agreement.
If you default on at least one payment, the bailiff is allowed to take and sell your belongings as an indirect way to collect money owed.
What should I do if I owe money I can’t afford to repay?
There are several types of formal debt solutions available in the UK to help people with a high level of debts and no realistic way to repay them.
When you enter into a formal debt solution like an IVA, your creditors will freeze any interest and charges on your debts, meaning that you can pay back what you owe without having to worry about further costs accumulating.
It’s important to remember that entering into a debt solution may have an impact on your credit rating.
That’s why it’s a good idea to seek professional advice before signing up to a debt solution.
To get reliable debt advice from a trained debt specialist, call Your Debt Expert today on 0800 082 8086.
Where can I get more advice on Warrant of control: Everything you need to know and other debt solutions?
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