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The powers of HMRC Bailiffs and HMRC Enforcement Officers - Can They Enter My House?

14th October, 2023
Robert Moore

Written ByRobert Moore

Marketing Manager


Rob has over a decade of experience in web and general marketing. He has extensive knowledge of the Insolvency sector and has helped many worried directors with their questions.

Rob is now working with the Board at KSA Group Ltd to develop strategic marketing programmes to support the business plan and drive more company rescues.

Robert Moore
  • Authorised HMRC debt collection agencies and bailiffs are as follows:
  • What are the powers of the HMRC bailiff or enforcement officer?
  • What rights do I have if a bailiff or enforcement officer visits my business premises?
  • Controlled Goods Agreement CGA (previously Walking Possession)
  • What can I do about the HMRC officer?

HMRC bailiffs, also known as enforcement officers, are authorised to visit your business premises if you fail to pay debts owed to HMRC such as VAT. HMRC may contract out to certificated bailiffs who can collect a wide range of debts.  These include court fines, business rates, council tax bills, parking fines and county court judgements.

Before officers just enter, you will receive letters, to advise you to pay the debt ASAP, or else bailiffs will be used. You tend to get 7 days of notice before their first visit.

Other reasons for agents visiting you can be to serve court documents or give notices.

Authorised HMRC debt collection agencies and bailiffs are as follows:

  • 1st Locate (trading as LCS)
  • Advantis Credit Ltd
  • Bluestone Credit Management Ltd
  • BPO Collections Ltd
  • CCS Collect (also known as Commercial Collection Services Ltd)
  • Moorcroft
  • Oriel Collections Limited
  • Past Due Credit Solutions (PDCS)

What are the powers of the HMRC bailiff or enforcement officer?

Officers are able to take your companies belongings and sell them, to pay off the debts and cover their fees, if you fail to pay them what they are owed.

With regards to limited companies, personal belongings cannot be taken. They only have the authority to take luxury items, which belong to the company. Any necessities are unable to be taken. Work tools and equipment worth less than £1,350 when added together, are unable to be taken. This is known as the tools of the trade exemption.

Also, anyone else’s belongings are not eligible. For example, officers will be able to take an expensive company machine, yet if it is rented or leased, they will not be able to.

If you are a sole trader or unlimited company, the power is similar, though applicable to your own personal belongings too. Any personal necessities such as household furniture, clothing and food, are non-removeable, hence unable to be seized by officers.

Partnerships see general partnership assets seized first, and then any personal belongings of each partner.

What rights do I have if a bailiff or enforcement officer visits my business premises?

You do not have to open your door to bailiffs or let them in. They cannot enter by forceful action, between 9pm and 6am, if only a child under 16 or vulnerable person is present or through anything other than the door.

If you do not let them in or agree payment, things outside of your premises i.e vehicles, can be taken. Additionally, you could be charged a higher fee.

You have the power to pay the debts on time and contact bailiffs to settle any issues, before enforcement is the only option. You can negotiate – if you cannot pay all at once, speak to them about other means around this. If you need advice on paying debts you cannot pay, see our page here.

Ensure you ask for a writ – this details their right to act and legitimises their right to take action. If you do not believe the enforcement officer has legal authority to be visiting you and demanding payment, contact for help ASAP.

If you are worried about bailiffs entering your home then read this article from Scottish Trust Deed.

Controlled Goods Agreement CGA (previously Walking Possession)

This is where an HMRC Officer can take control of the goods, after having sent a Notice of Enforcement and given 7 days notice. If the debt has not been paid, they can take control of the goods. Legally they cannot force their way in and can only enter through normal modes of entry.
If the goods remain on the premises, the debtor on signing the CGA also signs agreeing to allow the officer to re-enter the premises at any time to inspect or remove the goods. A vehicle can be put in store two hours after they have been secured.

Effectively, if you do not reach a deal or pay in full the officer can sell the assets, giving 7 days notice. It would be a criminal offence if you, as the director, sold assets which are covered in this way.

What can I do about the HMRC enforcement officer?

  • In the first instance you should check who the officer is. If he is an HMRC officer he will hold a HMRC identity card.
  • Is the bill in dispute? If so, then you should contact the HMRC office demanding payment. However, it should be noted that if you do dispute the bill then you should do it in response to the warning letters that have been sent. Sometimes the amount HMRC is seeking to collect may be under appeal. In this instance the bailiff can be asked to leave.
  • You could pay the money. It may be the only way to save the business. If your business if viable but just needs a bit of time then please call us on 08009700539 and we can look into trying to get the business restructured for a rescue. This could be using a CVA or administration

A word of caution. If the company’s registered office is your home then that is where the bailiff will turn up! This can be stressful so it is advisable to check. They can only enter a residential property by normal modes of entry and cannot force their way in. 

We are seeing more and more instances of HMRC resorting to Notice of Enforcements to collect unpaid taxes.

Worried Director What Will Happen To Me After Liquidation?

in Company Liquidation What is …?

"A man in the pub said I cannot be a director of any other company if I liquidate my company. Is this true?"Actually, this statement is entirely false! Misconceptions like this frequently arise from individuals with limited understanding of the subject matter. Such misinformation can cause undue anxiety for directors considering liquidation, fearing it might personally affect them. Guess what? Listening to bar room experts, inexperienced accountants, or no insolvency specialist lawyers can stop decisions being made, this failure to make a decision is really what could land you in trouble. So how will liquidation affect me and how long does it take? Having a limited liability company means that the directors have little risk (or limited liability) if the company fails, as long as they have acted properly and acted in time. What is more, if as a director, you have been compliant and on the payroll for many years, you can actually claim redundancy from the government like any other employee. But, and it is a big but, if you fail to act in time, fail to act reasonably, fail to keep books and records, continue taking credit KNOWING that the company cannot possibly repay it, then you ARE at risk of personal financial loss or worse such as losing your house. So, act now and get help for your company and more importantly start reducing your own risks.Voluntary liquidation is the quickest most efficient way to deal with an insolvent company that has no future. As a director of an insolvent company, you are at risk if you do not act. This risk RISES the longer you don't act to put the company into liquidation.If you fail to act and the company is wound up by the creditors (compulsory liquidation) then the Official Receiver (OR) will be appointed to liquidate the business and he or she will investigate the activity of the directors and the business over the last 2-3 years. This is known as a conduct report on each director.  If the OR can prove there was wrongful trading where, for instance, you have taken credit from a supplier or took deposits from customers when you knew that it was highly unlikely that you could pay them back, then you could be made personally liable.This is known as the "lifting of the veil of incorporation" that protects directors under limited liability. If this happens then you could made liable for PAYE, VAT and creditors monies from the time that you should have known the company had no reasonable prospect of surviving the problems it faced.Additionally, the directors may face disqualification proceedings under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 for up to 15 years, they can be fined and may face the loss of personal assets like your home, or even personal bankruptcy.Look, if you as directors have acted naively you may not know that you have broken these laws, but now you do know, it is vital to ensure that you protect yourself as a director by acting quickly to cease trading and put the company into voluntary liquidation; or consider a company voluntary arrangement if the company is VIABLE if the problems are solved. What is Creditors Voluntary Liquidation and what does it mean for me? In short, liquidation usually means, the company's trading stops and it's assets are turned into cash or "liquidated".All other possible liabilities, like employment liabilities, landlord's rent or payments to lease companies are stopped. It really is the end of the company, but the "business" may survive if a phoenix is organised. Liquidation is a powerful way to END creditor pressure and let you get on with your life. What if I have signed personal guarantees? If you have signed personal guarantees or indemnities to lenders, then the liquidation could lead to them being called in if the bank cannot get its money back from the company. There is little that can be done about that, but you should not delay decisions on liquidation to try and prevent a PG being called in: just think what ALL of the company's debts landing on your shoulders would do. Also it should be noted that HMRC now rank ahead of floating charge holders in any liquidation since December 2020.  Consequently, this may well mean that lenders that you have personally guaranteed will get less recovery hence exposing you more.All banks will agree a deal to repay the PG over time - provided you work with the bank to reduce their exposure.One great piece of FREE advice - always make sure that ALL tax returns, VAT returns and annual returns have been completed and sent in and that other "compliance" issues are dealt with wherever possible. These are important processes and will help protect you as individual directors. It shows that you have been acting properly.  I have heard about directors being able to claim redundancy in liquidation If you have been employed by the company and made payments via PAYE then you will be able to claim redundancy from the government and this is in fact a very simple process (20 minutes to fill out a form and we can help with that) so there is no need really to employ a third party to make a claim.  This process has been open to fraud so the HMRC are cracking down on operators that claim to be able to get money back when there is not enough "paperwork".  It isn't worth the risk.  If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is!You need to learn more about the options. This is clearly a general guide so, if you have any worries at all, please, just call us and we will talk you through the situation free and with expert guidance for your situation. Call one of our advisors or if you prefer, call our IPs (insolvency practitioners) now:Just one CALL will help relieve the stress and get you out of the mess.Why not call 08009700539 or 020 7887 2667 now?We could help you start the liquidation process today.(8.15am till 5.00pm; Out of hours call on 07833 240747, Wayne Harrison (IP)  or Eric Walls (IP) on 07787 278527)Finally, please remember this: NO BUSINESS is worth losing your health, relationships, marriages or your children over. Act properly, take advice, get the problem sorted and then get on with your life. In a little while the stress will go and you can focus on other things that are more important.Want more information on liquidation? Get our new free 2023 Experts Complete Guide to Creditors Voluntary Liquidation that covers Bounce Back LoansWe are experts in liquidation, voluntary liquidation, administration, pre-pack administration, business rescue, corporate rescue and company rescue, we can help solve your problems but only if you talk to us. Call 0800 9700539 for help.or email us your worries at 

Worried Director What Will Happen To Me After Liquidation?

Notice of Intention To Appoint Administrators

A notice of intention to appoint administrators is when the company files a document to the court to outline that it intends to go into administration if a solution cannot be found to its immediate financial problems. It can be used as part of the pre-pack administration process as well as used to restructure a failing business to avoid its liquidation.

Notice of Intention To Appoint Administrators
Man with umbrella

What Is A Winding Up Petition By HMRC or Other Creditor

A winding up petition is a legal notice put forward to the court by a creditor. The creditor petitions to the court if they are owed more than £750 and it has not been paid for more than 21 days. The application, in effect, asks the court to liquidate the company as they believe the company is insolvent.

What Is A Winding Up Petition By HMRC or Other Creditor

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