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Mortgage arrears: court action

This content applies to England & Wales

What happens when a mortgage lender takes action in the courts to take possession a property because of mortgage arrears.

Before the court hearing, advisers should try to negotiate with the lender to ask for concessions and to see if an agreement can be made to pay off the arrears over a period of time (if this is possible). This is particularly important because the legal costs of lengthy proceedings can be substantial and, under the terms of the mortgage deed, will normally have to be paid by the borrower. The Pre-action Protocol for Possession Claims based on Mortgage Arrears sets out steps that lenders and borrowers should take to ensure that court proceedings are a matter of last resort. Different options for dealing with mortgage payment problems are discussed in detail in the section on Mortgage arrears: payment problems.

For explanations of the terminology used in this section, see Mortgage jargon.

Legal background

Legal background to court action for mortgage arrears, including the lender's remedies, and the legislation under which possession can be taken. 

Possession procedure

The procedures lenders can use to repossess a property. 

Possible defences

Possible defences in mortgage possession cases. 

Dealing with a possession case

Steps that can be taken in the court proceedings, including the possession hearing. 

Types of orders

Orders the judge can make following a court hearing. 

Time orders

Time orders, and considers when the court might grant such an order. 

Court hearings after initial order

How the borrower can challenge or amend the order made, for example because of a change in circumstances. 

The eviction

Enforcement of possession orders by court's bailiffs or enforcement officers. 

After repossession

Powers the court has after repossession, the lender's responsibilities to the property and the lender's sale of the property. 

Borrower's sale of the property

The situation where the borrower wants to sell the property, either during or after possession proceedings. 

Dealing with a shortfall

Where a sale by the borrower or the lender may not be enough to pay off the mortgage in full. 

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