Court decisions about repossession

If your mortgage lender applies to the court to repossess your home, there are different types of court order the court can make.

Decisions the court can make

The court decides if a repossession order should be made.

The court can decide to make:

  • an outright possession order
  • a suspended possession order
  • a time order

The court could also decide to adjourn or dismiss the case against you.

Getting a court order changed

It may be possible for you to apply to the court to ask for a court order to be changed.

Find out more about asking the court to change an order.

Outright possession order

An outright possession order means that the court has decided that your mortgage lender can repossess your home.

The order sets a date you must leave your home by. This is usually 28 days after the court hearing.

If you are in a difficult situation, you can ask the court to delay your leaving date for up to a maximum of 56 days after the court hearing. For example if you are ill or you have young children.

The mortgage lender can apply to the court for bailiffs to evict you if you don't leave by the date in the court order.

Even if the court has made an outright possession order against you, you can try to negotiate with your lender if you are in a position to make a realistic offer. You may be able to persuade them not to apply for bailiffs to remove you from your home.

Find out more about arguing against repossession.

Suspended possession order

A suspended possession order means you can stay in your home as long as you keep to certain conditions.

The conditions are made by the judge and set out in the court order.

The court could decide to let you stay, for example if you:

  • pay your current monthly instalment plus a fixed amount off the arrears
  • make a lump sum payment by a certain date
  • make a series of extra payments on specified dates

The court could also let you stay to give you time to sell your home.

You can stay in your home as long as you keep to the conditions set by the court.

If you break any of the conditions, your lender can apply to the court to send bailiffs to evict you.

You can apply to the court to try to stop the eviction by the bailiffs but you must act quickly.

Find out more about arguing against repossession.

Order to adjourn the case

An adjournment means the case cannot be decided yet and the court hearing is postponed.

An adjournment may be indefinite or for a fixed period of time.

Reasons for an adjournment can include:

  • the court needs more information from you or your lender before making a judgment
  • you are able to raise a lump sum to pay off the arrears and the judge considers this possible
  • you are selling your home and need more time to complete the sale
  • the lender failed to follow the rules in the pre-action protocol

The judge will probably set conditions that you must meet while your case is adjourned. For example, you may have to pay an amount towards your mortgage arrears each month.

If you keep to the conditions set by the judge, you increase your chances of being able to stay in your home.

Conditions for an adjournment

The judge sets conditions for an adjournment. These may include:

  • sending the court a financial statement showing your income and spending
  • getting professional debt, money or housing advice to help you sort out your money problems
  • exploring options of raising a lump sum of money
  • continuing to pay your current monthly instalment, plus an amount towards your mortgage arrears

While the case is adjourned, you have the right to remain in your home. Bailiffs cannot be sent to evict you.

You may be told a date for the next court hearing when the case is adjourned or it could be sent to you at a later date.

Court order to dismiss the case

The judge could decide to dismiss the case.

Your mortgage lender can't repossess your home if the court dismisses the case.

Reasons for dismissing the case include:

  • your lender didn't follow the correct procedure for bringing the case to court
  • you have paid off your mortgage arrears and there are no arrears on the date of the hearing
  • your lender or their representative didn't attend the court hearing

Your mortgage lender has to restart the court process from the beginning if they want to try to repossess your home again.

Money judgments

Your mortgage lender can ask the court to add a money judgment to a possession order.

As well as the arrears, your lender can recover the full amount owed on your mortgage plus court fees and legal costs.

Suspending a money judgement

If the court suspends the possession order, the money judgment is usually also suspended.

You could ask the court for a money judgment to be suspended in these situations:

  • you pay off your mortgage arrears
  • your lender sells your home and the sale price is more than the amount set out in the money judgment

Order for court costs

The court does not usually make an order for you to pay your lender's costs of going to court. This is because most lenders add the legal costs of taking you to court to your mortgage debt.

If the lender has acted unreasonably, you can ask the court to:

  • order the lender not to add any costs
  • reduce the amount of costs it adds to your mortgage debt

The court might do this if the lender should not have taken you to court or did not follow the pre-action protocol.

The court won't order this unless you ask it to.

Time orders

The court can make a time order giving you more time to pay your loan agreement. This can:

  • reduce the interest rate payable on your loan
  • change the regular amount you repay
  • delay the time your next payment is due
  • increase the term over which you can repay the loan

Get advice about repossession

Get advice immediately if your lender has started court action.

Legal aid may be available to help with some or all of the costs.

Find out more about legal advice and legal aid in repossession cases.

Ask the council for help if you're facing homelessness

Contact a Shelter adviser online or by phone

Last updated 15 Dec 2016 | © Shelter

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