What can Sheriff Officers take?

What Sheriff Officers cannot take.

Rather than outlining what Sheriff Officers can take, it is probably easier to state what they cannot take.

The following is a list of what Scots Law considers to be essential assets. As such these assets cannot be attached by sheriff officers, using attachment orders or Exceptional Attachment Orders, providing a reasonable requirement for the items can be shown.

These items are also protected for the purposes of sequestration or protected trust deeds.

Can Sheriff Officers take cars and mobile homes?

Cars which have a value of less than £3,000 can be deemed to be an essential item and, therefore, protected from Sheriff Officers, provided a reasonable requirement for the car can be shown.

Sheriff officers also cannot take a mobile home that is the debtor’s only or principal residence.

What can Sheriff Officer take from within the home?

Sheriff officers can never take money from a debtor’s home (although they may take it from business premises). The exception to this rule is if the money is antique money, such as that kept by a coin collector, which is worth more than value shown on the money.

Other items Sheriff Officers cannot take are:

  • clothing reasonably required for the use of the debtor or any member of the debtor’s household;
  • implements, tools of trade, books or other equipment reasonably required for the use of any member of the debtor’s household in the practice of such member’s profession, trade or business, not exceeding in aggregate value £1,000;
  • medical aids or medical equipment reasonably required for the use of the debtor or any member of the debtor’s household;
  • books or other articles reasonably required for the education or training of the debtor or any member of the debtor’s household not exceeding in aggregate value £1,000;
  • articles reasonably required for the care or upbringing of a child who is a member of the debtor’s household;
  • toys for the use of any child who is a member of the debtor’s household;
  • beds or bedding;
  • household linen;
  • chairs or settees;
  • tables;
  • food;
  • lights or light fittings;
  • heating appliances;
  • curtains;
  • floor coverings;
  • furniture, equipment or utensils used for storing, cooking or eating food;
  • refrigerators;
  • articles used for cleaning, drying, mending, or pressing clothes;
  • articles used for cleaning the dwellinghouse;
  • furniture used for storing—
    • clothing, bedding or household linen;
    • articles used for cleaning the dwellinghouse; or
    • utensils used for cooking or eating food;
  • articles used for safety in the dwellinghouse;
  • tools used for maintenance or repair of the dwellinghouse or of household articles;
  • computers and accessory equipment;
  • microwave ovens;
  • radios;
  • telephones;
  • televisions.

What can Sheriff Officers take outside the home?

Sheriff Officers cannot take any tools or other equipment reasonably required for the purpose of keeping in good order and condition any garden or yard adjacent to, or associated with, a dwellinghouse in which the debtor resides.

Readers Questions

  1. Nicherie


    I have just been issued a charge for payment of money for council tax. I am on benefits at present and have been since 2016 due to very ill health. I’m not sure how on Earth I have accrued this much debt with being on benefits. I also do not have the means to pay the amount they’re asking for in such a short time. What are my options?

    1. Scottish Adviser Post author

      Hi Nicherie
      Thank you for coming on. I am not sure why you have accrued the levels of arrears you have. Possibly you have not been claiming all the benefits you have been entitled to.
      However, the Charge for Payment is a 14 day legal demand for payment. After that Sheriff Officers can arrest your wages, freeze your bank account or attach your car. In term of wage arrestments, if you are not working, this won’t be an issue, however they can attach funds in your bank account about £529.90, and even if they try and it fails as they money in your account is less than that, you can still have a £25 charge applied to you bank account by your bank.
      You should probably seek advice from your Local Advice Agency, to get a full benefit check completed, but they can also advise you on all your options regarding your debts.
      You can also look into a Statutory Moratorium, if you do regularly have more than £529.90 in your account and would be worried about a bank account arrestment or have a car, that is worth more than £3,000 and are worried they may take it. They can take a car under £3,000 if you don’t have a reasonable requirement for it.
      However, I would advise contacting your local advice agency.

  2. Jo


    I took out a Credit Card around 5 years ago, which I used for only emergencies.
    I then lost my job, but since there was only a minimal amount on my CC, my final salary covered it.
    I found another job but it was only 21 hours a week, and my income barely covered my car loan, insurance, road tax, phone, and minor living expenses, so I occasionally used my CC to cover things like fuel, but always paid the minimum payment each month.

    A few years on and I found another job, closer to home, but again part time. I muddled through making minimum payments until I was let go due to the firm restructuring. I couldn’t make my CC payments, and now I’m working again, I only earn £500 pm, and am up to my ears in debt.
    My partner knows nothing about any of my debt as he is not the most understanding when it comes to money problems, and to make matters worse, a brief spell of self-employment means that I’m owe the HMRC money now too.

    I’m at my wit’s end, not sleeping with all of this, but can’t speak to my partner about it, and just don’t know where to turn or what to do.

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Jo

      Unfortunately, debt can creep up on you like this.
      Rest assured there are solutions and it may be possible to avoid your partner finding out about this debt (although this can be more difficult where you share financial responsibilities for somethings).
      Ultimately, it is your business and a personal matter and if you are managing it, that is all that matters.
      I obviously don’t know your affordability to repay this debt and the HMRC debt, but if you contact a free money advice agency, they will help you draft an income and expenditure and discuss all your options with you.
      Scotland has an extensive network of free money advice agencies, so no matter where you live, there will be help available.

      See here for the full list.

  3. Joseph

    Hi. Me and my partner got letters from Stirling park Debt Agency and the last one told us we have 7 days to pay, if not they will take our goods.
    This is a long story. Our Landlord needed to pay council tax and he didn’t and now we need to pay it instead of him which is not right.

    We lived 6 months in shared flat
    and also payed the rent include council tax.

    One and a half year later we got a letter about this debt. We are no longer in contact with the Landlord, he disappeared. Long story..
    Also our furniture’s belongs to our new landlord and I am worried they will take it. It is very frustrating because I am the only person who now works and we have a little baby too. I don’t really know what to do

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Joseph

      First thing first. In relation to the Council Tax Liability and what periods you were liable for, that is something you should contact your local advice agency about, as it is, or can be quite complex.

      I relation to Stirling Park, the 7 day letter sounds like a routine threatening letter, but I cannot say without seeing it.

      Sheriff Officers require an Exceptional Attachment Order normally to come in to your home to seize goods and these are not that common. It requires further court hearings etc. They may send a letter saying they can do an Exceptional Attachment Order, which is not the same as having one.

      If they did have one they cannot only take property that belongs to you, not your landlord and I am sure you will have a tenancy saying it is a furnished flat you are in, which you can give them as evidence if you had to.

      In addition to that, many items are protected by law (see here).

      Finally, you may want to look to register a Statutory Moratorium for both you and your Partner. This is free to do, you can do online and gives you six months to contact your local advice agency, sort out the liabilty issues and hopefully come to an agreement with the Sheriff Officers about paying the debt off in a way that is affordable.

      Have a look at my Downloadable Debt Guide. It covers alot of these issues.

  4. APRIL


    I got a letter Notice of Legal Action for Sheriff Officers to enter my home to remove assets, as it’s been a while since I paid Council Tax, probably since 2011, when I lost my job and was only getting Job Seekers Allowance. I have since found a part time job, but even then it was hard to pay as I wasn’t earning enough.

    Since last April I had to leave, due to anxiety, depression and now this Co-vid Crisis is taking it toll on me and making my health worth.

    What items are they allow to take, as I rely on lot of things and most of them were gifts from parents and would cause me stress.

    It did say to contact within 7 days. The date on the letter is 20 November and only just got it on the 30 November.

    Was going to call but can’t make any sort of payment till 22nd Dec as when next get paid, and scared and don’t know what to do.

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi April

      I hope you are okay. You sound really worried.

      First, I don’t think they are going to come into your home. A special court order is required for this and is called an Exceptional Attachment Order and they are very rare.

      Many of the letters suggest they can get these, but doesn’t say they have one. They are intended to frighten you and the letters, which are demands for payment, can be misleading.

      It sounds to me like you should have been entitled to Full Council Tax Reduction Benefit for the times you are referring to and should only have been liable for water and sewage charges. I am just wondering if you were getting the correct benefits and whether you are now?

      In terms of what they can take when they do come into your home, its very limited as many essential items are protected (*see here*).

      What I suggest April is you Get Advice from your Local Advice Agency .

      Also you can register what is called a Statutory Moratorium (click here) and that will give you full protection from Sheriff Officers for 6 months, whilst you get advice.

      Hope this helps.

  5. John

    In August 2019 whilst on a trip in Cyprus my partner fell ill and we attended hospital for a few hours, I have just found out that the insurance company wont pay the medical fees and im being threatened with sherrif officers for the outstanding med bill . Can they take Items that dont belong to me from my house ?

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi John

      I am sorry, to hear what has occurred.

      Sheriff Officers can only enter your home when they have an Exceptional Attachment Order, which are relatively rare in Scotland. There is a lengthy procedure they must follow before they do so, which you can find out more about from the above link. There is also alot of items they cannot take, which you can see here.

      However, they can execute other recovery procedures known as Diligence, which you can find out more about here.

      If you want to discuss it more what your options are, you could visit your local Citizen Advice Bureau or Local Authority Money Advice Service for advice or if you want a call back you can request a call back from Carrington Dean, who I have partnered up with to provide advice. They are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and don’t charge for advice. You can do this by visiting by Request a Call Back Page.

  6. Jennifer


    I am being chased by stirling park for this years council tax.

    My partner is self employed and has been struggling for hours for the past few weeks due to Winter hours which will increase again after christmas break.

    We’ve now found out he is off work for 4 weeks over Christmas then back on the 6th January, with no pay until 17th I think.

    I emailed stirling park with this info and offering 50 a week from the 17th of January. Was not accepted and was told I need to pay 65 from this week.

    I called them and this was reduced to 50 but only from this week forward. We have only 450 a week going into his account and nothing going into mine. How can I sort this?

    Any advice on how I could get them to wait?

    Thank you

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi Jennifer

      I am sorry to hear about your situation.

      I am assuming you are not working.

      In terms of Stirling Park, they could try and arrest your partner’s bank account if you don’t make any payments.

      This would mean any sums over the first £529.30 in his account could be arrested.

      If the sums in his account are below this amount, the arrestment would fail, however the bank could still apply a £25 charge.

      The cost of the bank arrestment would still be added to the debt that you owe.

      If he has sums over this amount, the full amount could be taken up to the amount owed.

      They can’t arrest his earnings as he has none, as he is self employed; but if they know who he is working for as a self-employed person, they could try and arrest any sums he is owed. The £529.30 minimum protection would not apply, so they could ask for the full amount he is owed to be paid over to them.

      If either of you own a car they can try and attach it, but if it is worth less than £3,000 and you have a reasonable requirement for it, it is protected. If it is subject to finance, like hire-purchase or a PCP agreement, it cannot be attached as you don’t own it.

      They also cannot come into your home without carrying out a more complex procedure called an Exceptional Attachment Order. Unless they have applied to the Court for this, there is no need to worry about it at present.

      So really whether you want to make a payment to them just now is up to you, but if you think any of these recovery actions could succeed and you could lose more than they are asking for, you may want to make the payment they are seeking and then seek advice.

      Alternatively, if you can’t make the payment, you may want to look at whether your husband should use a Statutory Moratorium, which can stop all Sheriff Officers action for six weeks.

      However, before you do this, I would seek advice, as you can only use a moratorium once every 12 months.

      I would suggest going to your local Citizen Advice Bureau or Local Authority Money Advice Service and they can give you bespoke advice and assistance.

  7. James


    I have had a lot of money issues over past few years and it has been a long time since I have paid any council tax.

    I always got into debt with a catalogue company and have two officers at my door every day money to friday between 9 and 6.

    If I keep ignoring door will they end up kicking it.

    I’m pretty much house bound, due to anxiety and this is making life unbearable.

    I’m not sure what I should do to try and resolve this my benefits were cut over a year ago, so ever day is a struggle.

    I am not even sure how I’d begin to pay the money back. I am so scared.

    1. Scottish Adviser

      Hi James

      I am sorry you are in this situation and feel so intimidated.

      Firstly, there is no need to be.

      No-one is going to kick your door in, least of all a Sheriff Officer, who is an Officer of the Court and heavily regulated.

      I am not sure if it is Sheriff Officers or debt collectors and as my page on Sheriff Officers explains they are very different things (see here).

      I would seriously urge you to contact your local Citizen Advice Bureau or Local Council and ask if they have a money adviser/debt counsellor you can speak to.

      It is likely this can be resolved quite easily with their help and it also sounds like you need your benefits checked to make sure you are getting everything you are entitled to.

      You can contact your local Citizen Advice Bureau here, or contact your local Council here.

      Ignoring a problem never fixes it and you cannot continue to live in fear.

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