Can bailiffs take my car?
Bailiffs should always check the DVLA and Hire Purchase Index to confirm ownership of a vehicle before taking it into control.
If you have a vehicle, this will often be the bailiff’s first target. Vehicles are easy to find, easy to sell and often the highest value item someone owns.
Bailiffs can include your vehicle in a controlled goods agreement, or they can tow it away or clamp it. They can do this if your vehicle is parked at your home or on a public road. But they can’t take your vehicle if it’s parked on someone else’s private land, unless they have a court order allowing this.
Bailiffs can’t take all vehicles. The following are protected and can’t be taken into control:
- A vehicle displaying a disabled badge, or which is obviously used by a disabled person
- A vehicle which is subject to a logbook loan where the last payment to the finance agreement hasn’t been made. This is usually the case, although some bailiffs may try to take such a vehicle
- A vehicle which is essential for your job (for example, your taxi if you’re a taxi driver) and which is worth less than £1,350
- A vehicle such as a camper van, caravan or houseboat which is also someone’s main home
If a bailiff knows you have a vehicle but they can’t find it at your home, they’ll often search neighbouring streets. Many bailiff vehicles have automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras so they can spot vehicles they’re looking for while they’re driving around.
Can a bailiff take control of a hire purchase vehicle?
As hire purchase vehicles are the property of a third party until they’re paid off, enforcement agents arguably have no right to take them.
However, the current regulations allow for different interpretations. Some bailiffs argue they are within their rights to take (or clamp) a car which is on a hire purchase agreement. They may try to do this.
What should I do if a bailiff is threatening to take or clamp my hire purchase car?
You can make a complaint on the basis that the car belongs to the hire purchase company, not you.
- Complain immediately, in writing, to the bailiff company, and keep a record of your letter
- Send the same complaint letter to the creditor that instructed the bailiff
- If the creditor is overseen by a regulator or ombudsman such as the Financial Ombudsman or Local Government Ombudsman, also send the complaint to them