What is a controlled goods agreement?

What is a controlled goods agreement?A Controlled Goods Agreement is a regulated contract between a bailiff, also known as a debt enforcement agent, and a debtor. This type of agreement allows the debtor to retain the right of use of their goods, such as personal property or equipment, in return for a promise to pay off their debt according to an agreed payment schedule.

This agreement is commonly used in situations where the debtor is unable to pay off their debt in full and the bailiff is authorized to seize the debtor’s goods.

The Controlled Goods Agreement sets out the terms and conditions of the agreement between the bailiff and the debtor. This includes the amount of debt that is owed, the payment schedule that has been agreed upon, and the specific goods that will be subject to the agreement.

The agreement will also outline the specific security measures that must be in place to protect the controlled goods, such as locking mechanisms or surveillance cameras, and the procedures for reporting any breaches of security.

The agreement may also include penalties for non-compliance, such as additional fees or the revocation of the agreement, and provide for regular inspections to ensure compliance. It is important for both the bailiff and the debtor to have a clear understanding of the terms and conditions outlined in the Controlled Goods Agreement and to adhere to them to avoid any complications

Making a controlled goods agreement

When you owe a debt, an enforcement agent, also known as a bailiff, may come to your home to create an inventory of your belongings that they can take and sell to pay off your debt. This process is known as “taking control” of your possessions.

The bailiff may visit you in person or remotely through a video call to take control of your belongings. If a bailiff clamps your car, it means they have taken control of it.

You can prevent the bailiff from taking control of your belongings by paying off your debt in full, if you are able to. However, if you are unable to pay off the debt fully, a Controlled Goods Agreement can be made with the bailiff to prevent them from removing the belongings they have taken control of. This agreement requires that you agree on a repayment plan to pay off the debt, usually through regular payments.

If you fail to make the payments according to the agreement, the bailiff may remove your belongings to sell and pay off the debt.

The controlled goods agreement must be created in three steps.

1. Check the inventory

It is crucial for the bailiff to accurately document all possessions they take control of by creating a detailed inventory. This should include information such as the model, make, and color of each item. It is important to review the regulations regarding what items bailiffs are permitted to seize, and to challenge any items that may not be legally taken.

It is also necessary to double-check that any items listed on the inventory are indeed yours, and to indicate otherwise if necessary.

2. Agree a repayment plan

It is important to come to a mutual agreement with the bailiff regarding affordable payment plans. Consider your financial capabilities and make sure to allocate enough funds for necessary expenses such as food, housing, and utility bills.

Utilize budgeting tools, if necessary, to determine a feasible amount to pay and present this information to the bailiff. Maintain control over the negotiation process and do not agree to any payments that exceed your means.

Request a payment plan that aligns with your personal financial management, and do not hesitate to seek support and raise complaints if you feel pressured or harassed.

3. Check the controlled goods agreement is valid

It is essential to carefully review and verify the information on the controlled goods agreement before signing it.

  • your correct name and address
  • the total debt you owe – check the amount is correct
  • any fees that have been added – check what fees bailiffs are allowed to charge
  • the repayment plan you’ve agreed to – this needs to show how much you’ll pay and how often you’ll pay it
  • any of your belongings the bailiff has taken control of – these also need to be listed on a separate document called an ‘inventory’

Additionally, make sure that any items that the bailiff has taken control of are listed on a separate inventory document. It is important to thoroughly review these documents and to refuse to sign if there are any discrepancies or if you are unable to adhere to the repayment plan. Remember that the agreement is not legally binding until you have signed it.

If you choose not to sign, the bailiff has the right to seize and sell your belongings to pay off the debt. However, it is advisable to try and negotiate a feasible payment plan before taking this drastic step.

Be sure to request a signed copy of both the controlled goods agreement and inventory from the bailiff.

Keeping to your controlled goods agreement

Adhering to the repayment plan outlined in the controlled goods agreement is crucial. If payments are missed, the bailiff is authorized to repossess the listed belongings in an attempt to recover the debt.

They may also choose to sell these items to fulfill the outstanding payment. It is essential to make timely payments to avoid losing your possessions and to avoid adding additional fees.

If you’re worried about keeping to your controlled goods agreement

If you’re concerned about being able to keep to the terms of the controlled goods agreement, reach out to your local Citizens Advice for assistance. An advisor can help you negotiate a new payment plan that aligns with your financial capabilities.

In case of missed payments, the bailiff can provide you with a “notice of intention to re-enter” which gives you two full days before they can enter your home and seize your belongings. It is recommended to contact the bailiff before missing a payment if possible. Check the controlled goods agreement for the bailiff’s company’s contact information, and explain the reason for the missed payment, whether it be due to an unexpected expense or job loss.

If the bailiff is unwilling to adjust the payment plan and you believe you have been forced into an agreement you can’t keep, seek help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

If you’ve broken your controlled goods agreement

If you fail to adhere to the terms of your controlled goods agreement, the bailiff may attempt to enter your home and seize any items listed in the agreement. They are required to give you prior notice, known as a “notice of intention to re-enter,” which allows you a two-day window before they can enter.

However, if the agreement was made via video call, the bailiff cannot send a notice and may ask to enter your home, but you are not obligated to let them in. Be sure to check that the notice contains correct information, including your name and address, and details the reason for breaking the agreement.

If the information is incorrect, contact the bailiff’s company and request a delay until a valid notice is provided. Even if the notice is valid, there may still be an opportunity to negotiate a new payment plan and avoid the bailiff entering your home.

Contact the bailiff’s company and explain the circumstances that led to the agreement being broken and ask for additional time to repay the debt.

If the bailiff tries to come into your home

If you’ve breached your controlled goods agreement, the bailiff may attempt to enter your home to remove items listed in the agreement. They must provide you with a valid “notice of intention to re-enter” before doing so. If the notice is not correct or if you believe the agreement was made under duress, you should contact the bailiff’s company immediately.

Even if the notice is valid, there may still be time to negotiate a new repayment plan or offer to pay the debt. Keep in mind that the bailiff is only allowed to use reasonable force and cannot break down your door.

If you do not let them in, they may return with a locksmith to unlock the door. It’s important to try and come to a new agreement with the bailiff’s company.

If you let the bailiff in

If the bailiff has come to your home, they are permitted to seize and sell your belongings in order to pay off your debt, as long as the items are listed in the controlled goods agreement. It is important to ensure that the bailiff provides a receipt for any items they take, and that the receipt is signed and lists everything that is being taken.

If the bailiff damages any of your property or takes something that should not be included in the agreement, it is important to file a complaint. Additionally, even after the bailiff has removed your belongings, there may still be an opportunity to make a payment offer in order to prevent them from being sold.


A Controlled Goods Agreement is a legally binding contract between a bailiff and a debtor, which allows the debtor to keep possession of their belongings while making payments towards their debt according to a pre-agreed schedule. The format for a Controlled Goods Agreement is outlined in the Certification of Enforcement Agents Regulations 2014.

The definition of this agreement is outlined in Paragraph 13(4) of Schedule 12 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, and is further regulated under the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013. This regulation also outlines the requirements for inventory lists of controlled goods.

Steve Jones Profile
Insolvency & Restructuring Expert at Business Insolvency Helpline

With over three decades of experience in the business and turnaround sector, Steve Jones is one of the founders of Business Insolvency Helpline. With specialist knowledge of Insolvency, Liquidations, Administration, Pre-packs, CVA, MVL, Restructuring Advice and Company investment.