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If I live in a house owned by someone in debt, can a repo man repossess my personal property -- e.g., my computers?

I live with a person who does not have a good credit history, so I constantly get these worries.

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    Who is the person you live with? Spouse? Roommate? Do they own the house? Rent? – BlueDogRanch Mar 19 '16 at 16:20
  • This person is one of my parents, and they own the house (i.e. its in their name) and the computers in questionn (2012 MacBook Pro & Dell Inspiron 530) were gifted to me from them. – Seanny Mar 19 '16 at 18:25
  • The chance of and legality of property repossession depends on the nature of the debt: real estate debt (house), unsecured debt (credit cards) or secured debt (bank loan). One more clarification: are you under 18? I'm not going to answer your question; you should wait for someone more familiar with UK law. – BlueDogRanch Mar 19 '16 at 20:10
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First, to get terminology right:

In the UK, the term repossession is (apparently) only applied to homes. This is unlike in the US, where you can also repossess other property, such as a car. The equivalent notion in UK law is probably attachment, which is the taking of property to satisfy a debt.

About the process:

  • First, taking personal property to satisfy a debt is only possible with a court order. You cannot just waltz in and take stuff. There are also limits to what you can ask to take, for example essentials (such as basic furniture) are excluded.

  • Secondly, the creditor may only seize goods owned by the debtor. So even if the creditor manages to get a court order and seizes property, you can challenge the seizure by proving that the object is your property, and not the property of the debtor.

So in practice you are unlikely to get in trouble, unless you have very valuable objects. In that case, you should probably talk with your housemate, to find out whether they were warned of an impending seizure.


Finally, while there is no guarantee, it is relatively uncommon for personal property to be seized. Most everyday items cannot be seized anyway, and even if they can, selling used property is so cumbersome it is unlikely to be worth it.

So typically property seizures will only be considered for exceptionally valuable property (coins, jewelery, precious paintings, expensive car...). Usually, the creditor will instead seize the debtor's income (via a ''Attachment of Earnings Order''). This can be served to the debtor's bank, and redirects some of the debtor's income to the creditor. This is generally the preferred way, as it's simpler.

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  • I could not edit the above post to highlight the answer hidden in it which is "The creditor may only seize goods owned by the debtor. " (There is a lot of good information in the post - its a pity the key part is buried in the middle) – davidgo Jul 30 '16 at 0:38
  • @davidgo: Good point. I highlighted that part. – sleske Jul 30 '16 at 10:22

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