How you can prepare for a repossession court hearing if your mortgage lender has started court action.
Keep the hearing date free
You should get at least 21 days' notice of a repossession court hearing date. The date and time should be written on the front of the claim form the court sends you.
Keep the day free for the hearing so you can attend.
If you have an adviser, tell them the court date. Tell anyone else who is affected or who should come to court with you.
Check the documents sent by the court
Your mortgage lender may start court action to repossess your home if you haven't dealt with your mortgage arrears problems or negotiations with your lender have failed.
The court sends you documents about your case. These are:
- a claim form – this tells you when and where the court hearing will be
- the 'particulars of claim' – this sets out the lender's case
- a defence form for you to complete and return to the court
Check the particulars of claim
Papers from the court should include a document called the particulars of claim. This gives the reasons why the lender wants to repossess your home.
Read the document carefully. Check all the details are correct.
Make a note of anything you don't agree with, for example if:
- you don't agree with the amount of arrears
- the lender says they have contacted you but they haven't
- payments are missing from the record of payment
- you have been in touch with the lender, but details of your phone calls and letters are not included.
Work out if you can afford arrears payments
The courts can allow you to spread the repayment of your arrears over a reasonable period.
Prepare a breakdown of your household income and expenditure.
Use a free online budget planner and calculator such as:
Keep up your normal monthly mortgage payments if you can and try to keep to any agreement you have made about paying off your arrears.
Send the reply form to the court
The papers sent to you by the court include a defence form.
Complete the defence form within 14 days of receiving it or as soon after that date as you can.
Use the defence form to tell the court about:
- your finances and money problems
- any offers to repay your mortgage arrears
- if there are any mistakes in the particulars of claim – the document that explains the lender's case
You should also include any other information you think the judge needs to know, for example why you missed payments.
The judge looks at both the particulars of claim and defence form before the hearing.
Get legal advice if you need help filling in the form.
Prepare a budget statement for the court
You must to show the court that you can pay your mortgage and arrears in the future. The court must believe that you are ready to take action to keep your home.
If your budget doesn't balance, decide what you need to change to make it balance.
Prepare an up-to-date budget statement to take to the repossession court hearing.
Use the free budget tool from AdviceGuide.
Collect evidence for the hearing
You'll need to show evidence to support the arguments you make to the court.
Collect together any relevant documents that you think the judge might want to see. This could include:
- pay slips
- bank statements
- evidence of any lump sum payments you could use to reduce or clear your arrears
You can also show the court proof that you plan to sell your home to pay back your mortgage and arrears.
Keep in contact with your lender
If you can talk to your lender and reach an agreement before the hearing, your lender may agree:
- that the case doesn't need to go to court
- to confirm to the court that they will accept a suspended possession order that sets out terms for you to repay the arrears
A suspended possession order is a type of court order that allows you to keep your home so long as you keep the terms of a repayment agreement.
Any conditions set should be manageable for you.
Attend the court hearing
The court hearing is held in private. You can ask questions and the judge will explain what's happening. You'll have the chance to argue against repossession.
Find out where to get help with debts.
You may be able to get an adviser or solicitor to help you and to represent you in court.
Call the Civil Legal Advice helpline on 0345 345 4 345. You may be able to get help from a legal aid lawyer if you claim certain benefits or have a low income.
Call Shelter’s free advice helpline on 0808 800 4444
Have the papers you received from the court with you when you speak to an adviser.
Video: Help on the day of your hearing
Last updated 25 Jan 2017 | © Shelter