Seizure of Property

If you do not pay your fine and you ignore all reminders, the matter becomes more serious and costly. The Infringements Court may issue an infringement warrant, giving the Sheriff power to enforce that warrant.

Infringement Warrants and Warrants to Seize Property

If you have an infringement warrant or a warrant to seize property issued against you, a sheriff's officer may come to your address to demand that you pay the outstanding amount (this is an official process called a 'payment demand'). If payment is not made or you have not been granted a payment order or revocation, the sheriff's officer can seize and sell your property to the value of the outstanding debt.

This page contains information about:

What goods can be seized?

A sheriff's officer can take goods that belong to you to enforce your fines. However, they cannot take goods that are necessary for you and your household to live in basic comfort.

Things you can keep include:

  • a washing machine and dryer
  • a refrigerator and freezer
  • a TV, VCR, radio and set of stereo equipment
  • a telephone
  • a lounge suite
  • a dining table and chairs
  • sufficient beds, bedding, linen, clothing, cutlery, crockery, heating/ cooling equipment for the household
  • educational, sporting or recreational items (such as books and computers) used by children or students in the household
  • tools of trade to the value of $3,600*
  • a motor vehicle or motor cycle which is used primarily as a means of transport, to the value of $7,350*.
     

You can sign a consent form to let the Sheriff take your primary means of transport under an infringement warrant, where it is worth $7,350* or less.

*Current as at 24th July 2013. These amounts change with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) each financial year. 
For the current figure please view Indexed Amounts.
 

Sheriff's officers have the power to restrain physically anyone who tries to stop them enforcing the warrant.

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Rescue of Property

If a sheriff's officer intends to seize your property to enforce an unpaid fine, they will ask you to sign for safekeeping of these assets until they return to take them. If you refuse to sign for safekeeping, they will remove the assets immediately.

If you sign for safekeeping of certain assets, you must not:

  • deface or remove any mark attached to that property indicating that it has been so seized
  • remove assets to be seized from their location
  • dispose of assets to be seized
  • deface assets to be seized
  • remove assets to be seized from the place where they were situated when the notice was served (without written consent from the Sheriff).
     

If you do any of the above, you risk a large fine, jail or both.

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Sale of property at auction

All property seized to satisfy outstanding criminal and civil warrants can be sold by the Sheriff at public auction.

Third party claim of property (denying ownership of property)

During a search for, or seizure of assets, a debtor may:

  • deny ownership of the property in question
  • claim that the property is owned by a third party
  • claim that the property is co-owned
  • claim that the property is under finance.

 

A third party claim does not necessarily prevent a sheriff's officer from forming a 'reasonable belief' that the debtor owns the property.

The sheriff's officer can provide an Adverse Claim for Property form to the debtor or directly to the third party claimant.

The Adverse Claim for Property form must be completed by the third party claimant and copies of supporting evidence, such as receipts of the property should be attached. The receipts should be in the claimant's name or the claimant should provide statutory declarations from witnesses attesting to ownership of the property.

The Sheriff's office will notify the enforcement agency or judgment creditor that issued the original infringement or lodged the warrant. If the enforcement agency disputes the claim, the Sheriff can apply to the court for an interpleader proceeding to have the question of property ownership determined.

In an interpleader proceeding the court will decide whether the seized property belonged to the third party claimant at the time of seizure.

If the court accepts the third party claim, the Sheriff will release the property to the third party claimant.

Download Adverse Claim for Property form

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