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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: taking control of goods (TCoG): re-entry of a premises

Circumstances where you may re-enter the premises

If, when you originally entered the debtor’s premises, there were no or insufficient goods of which you could take control, therefore no Controlled Goods Agreement (CGA) exists, then you can re-enter the premises, but only where:

  • there were goods in use by the debtor at the time of your visit which you did not seize (and the value justifies the return)
  • you believe further goods may now be available (such as a hauliers where some of their vehicles were not available at the time of your original visit).

Only in these circumstances is it permissible to re-enter the premises and take control of such goods.

Notice of intention when re-entering premises

The enforcement agent must give the debtor at least two clear days’ notice of their intention to re-enter the premises (Sundays, bank holidays, Good Friday and Christmas Day do not count towards the two days). In exceptional cases (for example, where the enforcement agent feels that the goods may be moved or otherwise disposed of), they can apply to the court via their manager for a shorter period.

Giving notice of re-entry and content of notice

The notice must be in writing, signed and given to the debtor by the enforcement agent. As this action will usually be carried out by the agent/auctioneer (prior to removal), they will need to be certified enforcement agents. In some cases however, it may be necessary for the notice to be delivered by the Field Force collector.

The notice should not be posted but should instead be given by either:

  • fax or other electronic communication
  • delivery by hand through the letterbox of one of the places where the debtor usually lives or carries on a trade or business
  • handed to the debtor personally
  • where the debtor is not an individual (such as a company, corporation or partnership), by delivering the notice to one of the places where the debtor carries on a trade or business or to the registered office address of the company or partnership
  • if there is no letter box, it should be affixed in a place that is likely to come to the attention of the debtor.

It must contain:

  • the name and address of the debtor and the reference number or numbers
  • the date of the notice and the amount of the sum outstanding as at that date
  • sufficient details of the CGA (which the debtor has failed to comply with) to enable the debtor to identify the agreement correctly
  • how the debtor has failed to comply with the repayment terms of the CGA
  • how and between which hours and on which days payment may be made
  • a contact phone number, address and opening days/times at which the EA or their office may be contacted
  • the date and time by which the sum outstanding must be paid to prevent the controlled goods being inspected or removed for storage or sale
  • a note that the enforcement agent may, if necessary, use reasonable force to re-enter the premises in order to inspect the goods or remove them for storage or sale.

Re-entry access denied

Where the EA is denied access and the following conditions are met:

  • there is a CGA
  • the debtor has failed to comply with the payment terms of the CGA
  • the debtor has been given notice of intention to re-enter the premises
  • the premises are business premises not residential premises

they can use reasonable force against the premises (but not against the person) in accordance with Para 19 of Schedule 12 to TCEA 2007.