can't pay? We'll take it away

Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away! But Here’s What Bailiffs Can’t Take…

If you’ve ever tuned in to “Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away!” and wondered if the items being seized could really be taken by bailiffs, the answer is likely to be yes. In reality, there are very few things that aren’t fair game when it comes to collecting unpaid debts.

Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away

Once a debtor has been properly warned of their unpaid debt, often with the help of a process server, and a court summons, the list of items that can be seized as payments is nearly endless. From cash, to jewellery, to cars and more – bailiffs will arrive at your doorstep to take an inventory of your belongings. They will then give you a certain period of time to review that inventory, and possibly to make payments towards your debt in order to keep the things listed on the inventory. But despite these regulations on how items are seized, there are certain things that a bailiff cannot take.

What Bailiffs Can’t Take

Items essential for basic domestic needs

Bailiffs are never permitted to take items that would be considered essential to your health and wellbeing. This includes a variety of household items that you use in connection to cooking, eating, personal hygiene, medical purposes, or communication. For instance, a bailiff cannot seize a cooker, fridge, microwave, or any other large equipment, no matter the value, that you would need in order to cook and serve a basic meal. This does not include novelty cooking items, such as fancy grills. The label of “basic domestic needs” does include items such as dining room tables, telephones, beds, and any lighting.

School or work supplies and equipment

The last thing that a bailiff wants to do is to deprive a debtor of the items that they could potentially use to get out of debt. This includes any items related to a person’s work or schooling. Laptops or tablets used exclusively for work or school, as well as any accessories that go with them, cannot be seized. Books are also off limits. The only exception to this rule is for debtors who owe for unpaid business rates.

Your children’s belongings

Any items that belong to a child, even expensive toys or clothing, is off limits to bailiffs. This also includes any items used in the care of any children under the age of 18.

Items that could be considered a home

If you own a motorhome, houseboat, or even a tent that could act as your home, that cannot be seized by a bailiff.


No matter how much your beloved pet is valued at, a bailiff cannot seize any domestic pets of any kind.

Vehicles used by disabled people

Cars, trucks, vans, and other vehicles are popular items to be seized by collectors to pay back large debts, but vehicles that are used to transport disabled people are off limits, even if the debtor themselves is not disabled. The vehicle does not need to be specialised to be considered as being used in this way; it simply needs to display the disabled person’s blue badge.

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