Can a Collection Agency Take My Furniture?
A collection agent’s job is to collect money from you, so they will try whatever means of persuasion they think will help them to convince you to pay them. Many times that includes saying “if you don’t pay, we will send a bailiff to your house and seize your furniture.” Another variation of that line is: “you used your credit card to purchase that bed, so if you don’t pay us now we will send someone to your house to seize your bed.” Does it mean that a collection agency can take your furniture? Is it possible for a collection agent to seize your personal belongings?
In most cases, the answer is no.
Creditors don’t usually seize your property for several obvious reasons.
First, your household items would cost money to repossess. They can’t exactly take your couch and put it in the back seat of a car. They would need a moving truck and two people to remove it. And they would need to pay for it.
Second, your belongings probably have minimal value if sold. You might have spent $300 for your couch ten years ago, but as a used couch today they would be likely to sell it for $25. It, therefore, doesn’t make sense for a collection agent to take your furniture, spend $50 on a moving van and two movers so that he/she can seize something that can be sold for $25.
Finally, in most provinces basic household goods are exempt from seizure, meaning they cannot be taken. For detailed information on what is exempt in your province, please contact a local Licensed Insolvency Trustee.
In addition, for any creditor to seize or repossess any of your assets, they must have one of the following:
First, to be able to take your goods, including furniture, a collection agency must have a court order allowing it to seize your goods. That means the agency must go to court and convince a judge to allow them to seize your property. In most cases this comes down to a lot of work and high lawyer’s fees – all to seize goods that have minimal value.
Second, for a lender to be able to seize your goods without a court order, the lender has to have your permission to place a lien on your goods that you signed at the time of borrowing money from the lender. If you purchased a table using your credit card, the only document you probably signed was the credit card slip, which means you didn’t sign a lien document.
Therefore in most cases the creditor or collection agency doesn’t want to take your furniture, and probably doesn’t have the legal authority to seize your goods; they will, however, threaten to do so if you haven’t paid your bills.
If collection agents are threatening to take your furniture or other assets, you probably have more bills than you can handle, so we recommend that you arrange for a free consultation with one of our Licensed Insolvency Trustees. He/she will analyze your situation and help you decide on the best way for dealing with your debts.
Read our article called A Guide to Canadian Debt Collection Laws.