"If I leave the UK, my debts will eventually go away"
Avoiding debt by moving to another country would make it harder for a UK-based creditor to find you, but it wouldn’t guarantee they’d stop chasing you. What’s more, there are a growing number of organisations that will chase consumer debt internationally.
Depending where you move, creditors may have a branch of their company in that country. They would be able to pursue the debt on the UK branch’s behalf.
Creditors can also take court action against you in your absence. This means that the debt will still need to be dealt with should you ever return to the UK.
There are steps you can take to deal with your debts from abroad.
"Creditors can send bailiffs to my house to collect payments"
Only the courts have authority to instruct bailiffs (also known as enforcement agents and sheriff officers if you’re based in Scotland) to visit your property.
Creditors may send collection agents, but they have no powers to force entry into your home and seize goods. Bailiffs can only enter your property if you’ve allowed them in on a previous visit and you’ve signed a ‘controlled goods agreement’.
The only time a bailiff can force entry into your property is if they’re collecting unpaid magistrates fines or debts owed to HMRC. In these cases, forced entry is an option but it’s used very rarely.
If you’re dealing with any kind of court debt, please get free and confidential debt advice as soon as possible.
"Bailiffs can take anything they want from my house"
There are strict rules which dictate what bailiffs can and can’t take from your home. They prefer goods that will sell for a good price at public auction, so their main targets will be:
- Electronic goods, such as TVs and computers
They must leave you with basic items, such as
- A washing machine, fridge and cooking appliance
- A landline or mobile phone
- Enough bedding for everyone in the house
- A dining table and enough chairs for everyone in the house
- Heating appliances
- Lighting appliances
- Medical or care equipment
Some goods are protected from being collected by bailiffs. These are:
- Goods that belong solely to someone else, although they can take goods that you jointly own with that person, and the other person might need to produce a receipt to prove ownership
- Pets and assistance dogs
- Tools and equipment that you need for your job or study, up to a value of £1,350
- Fixtures in your property, such as fitted wardrobes or fitted kitchen units
Can you help me with my debts?
If you're worried about debts, please get in touch with us. We can give you the free and confidential debt advice you may need. Our online advice tool can help you put together a personal action plan, at any time of day you prefer. Alternatively, you can speak to one of our advisors over the telephone.