A bailiff is an authorised officer of the court, appointed by the sheriff of Western Australia to:

  • serve court documents
  • seize and sell a judgment debtor's real or personal property.

A bailiff could be at your door for one of several reasons. For example, they could be there to give you a summons to a court hearing. The bailiff may be there to enforce a court order if you owe someone money. 

This page has information on the powers of entry for bailiffs, some of your options if the bailiff is at your door, and what you can do if you don’t want your property seized and sold.

What are the powers of entry for a bailiff for with a property (seizure and sale) order?

The bailiff may, when authorised by the sheriff, use any force and assistance that is reasonably necessary to enter any place where they believe on reasonable grounds there is or may be personal property or a record about title of any property which can be seized under the property (seizure and sale) order. They have other powers of entry.

The bailiff will want to see what you own in order to decide what to sell. The bailiff may seize personal property to be sold and store it or leave it with you. You will not be allowed to move it or give it to anyone else without the permission of the bailiff.

Some property cannot be seized by the bailiff.

If I own a house can it be sold?

Your real estate property can only be sold if the bailiff decides the judgment debt can't be met by selling your personal property.

The bailiff is at my door. What can I do?

What you can do depends on why the bailiff is at the door.   

If the bailiff is there to serve a claim or other court documents, it may be served on you if you are the defendant (or person named on the document). If you are not that person, the bailiff can still serve you with the documents for you to give to the defendant if:

  • you are aged over 18, and
  • show a willingness to pass the documents on to the defendant.

If the bailiff is there to enforce a property (seizure and sale) order, entry to your property may be sought if they have reasonable grounds for believing there is or may be personal property that can be seized under the order at the location.

Is it an offence to hinder or stop the seizure of goods by the bailiff?

Yes, it is a criminal offence to hinder or stop the seizure of goods by removing, hiding, retaining, or disposing of the goods. The offence is punishable by fines or imprisonment.

What are my options if I do not want my property seized and sold?

If you do not want your property seized or sold by the bailiff, you could:

  • Pay the debt and costs in full.
  • Talk to the judgment creditor to arrange payment of the debt. If you reach an agreement, the judgment creditor may agree to not enforce the property (seizure and sale) order and have the bailiff return the order to court. Make sure you keep a signed written record of any agreement.
  • Apply to have enforcement put on hold. This means you must apply for a 'suspension order'. You should get legal advice before doing this.

What if the bailiff has seized property that doesn't belong to the judgment debtor?

The person who has a claim against the property seized by the bailiff will have to take court action to get the property back. This is called ‘interpleader proceedings’. The person should get legal advice before starting court action.

More information

The Magistrates Court of WA has fact sheets for judgment creditors and judgment debtors on property (seizure and sale) orders (including what property cannot be seized) and a fact sheet on interpleader proceedings.


Reviewed: 17 April 2024


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.