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Bailiff and enforcement agents advice

i England and Wales only

What is a warrant of control?

A warrant of control tells a County Court bailiff to take control of your goods. These are then sold to pay off your debt, as well as any court costs and fees.

A warrant of control is requested by the people you owe but:


This was called a ‘warrant of execution’ until April 2014.

In some cases, this term may still be used.

How long do you have to respond to a warrant of control?

Bailiffs send you a letter before they can visit your home and make a list of goods.

You have seven days after getting the letter to:

  • Agree a payment plan or
  • Pay the debt
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How do the people I owe get a warrant of control?

The people you owe may request a warrant of control if:

  • The court set an instalment order but:
  • You missed at least one monthly payment or
  • You missed at least four weekly payments
  • The court ordered payment in full by a deadline that you missed
  • The judgment was set ‘forthwith

Judgement forthwith means:

  1. A court says you must pay the full amount you owe immediately, and
  2. The people you owe can now take action to get it

The people you owe use form N323 to apply for the warrant of control.

The warrant is then issued to County Court bailiffs at your local hearing centre.

The people you owe have six years from the date of the CCJ to apply for a warrant of control.

After six years, they must ask for permission from the court to apply.

I got a notice of enforcement - what is it?

A notice of enforcement tells you that a warrant of control was issued.

It also gives you:

  • A date from which the bailiff (or enforcement officer) will visit you
  • At least seven days notice before they can visit

Can bailiffs force entry with a warrant of control?

No, a warrant of control does not let bailiffs force entry.

Bailiffs can technically apply for a separate warrant to force entry for CCJs, but only if:

  • The judgment is to do with a business address, or
  • You moved controlled goods to another place to stop them being taken

Find out more about what bailiffs can do.

What can bailiffs take with a warrant of control?

Bailiffs look for things they can sell to pay back your debt.

They are only allowed to take things that:

  • They have access to
  • They can remove
  • They can physically touch

They cannot take:

  • Medical or care equipment
  • Basic household items like:
  • A cooker
  • A fridge
  • Your only phone
  • Beds
  • Things they see through your window or letterbox unless:
  • You signed a virtual controlled goods agreement
  • This is only for rare vulnerabilities

Read what else bailiffs can take

What types of debts can use a warrant of control?

A warrant of control can only be used to enforce county court judgements for:

  • Any debt regulated by the Consumer Credit Act 1974
  • Any unregulated debts with a value of less than £5,000

Unregulated debts of more than £5,000 cannot be enforced with a warrant of control.

The people you owe need a High Court writ of control to take control of goods for these debts.

The warrant of control might be issued for:

  • The full outstanding amount of the CCJ
  • One or more missed payments if:
  • An instalment order was set and
  • You are unable to pay
  • Warrants are rarely used in this way

A warrant of control cannot be used to collect a debt of less than £50.

Are there any warrant of control fees?

The people you owe must pay a fee when they apply for the warrant of control. Their fee is added to your debt.

The fee is either:

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