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Decisions a judge can make at a mortgage repossession hearing

At a mortgage repossession hearing, the judge could decide to:

  • let you stay in your home

  • delay your case

  • close the case

  • set a date for possession

  • change the terms of your mortgage agreement

The judge makes a decision based on the evidence they have from you and your lender.

They set out the decision in a court order.

Court fees and your lender’s legal costs are usually added to your mortgage debt. This can happen even if your court order does not say anything about costs.

Let you stay in your home

The judge could let you stay in your home if you keep to a repayment plan.

They usually do this with a suspended possession order.

You usually have to pay back your arrears by the end of your mortgage term. The judge will say how by looking at what you can afford. For example, by paying £50 a month on top of your normal mortgage payments.

You have to follow the exact instructions on the court order.

You might not get a written copy of the court's decision for a few weeks. Ask the duty adviser or the judge about anything you do not understand.

What you have to pay each month could go up if your normal mortgage payments increase. For example, if your interest rate changes.

Speak to a debt adviser if you are struggling.

If you miss a payment

Your lender can apply to court for a warrant to evict you.

If you have cleared the arrears

Apply to discharge the court order.

Otherwise your lender could get a warrant to evict you straight away if you miss payments again.

Delay the case

The judge can delay the case. This is called an adjournment.

They usually do this to give you or the lender more time to do something.

The delay is usually for about 28 days.

It could increase your court costs.

Delay to give more time

For example, so:

  • you can get legal advice

  • the lender can give more information to the court

  • you can sell your home, if you have evidence of selling

  • you can get money you are expecting, such as benefits or money from a sale

  • the Financial Ombudsman Service can look into a complaint you've made about your lender

Delay so you can keep to a repayment plan

The judge might delay the case if you keep to a repayment plan.

They usually only do this if you show you can pay back the arrears within 2 months.

If you clear the arrears, you should not need to go back to court.

Close the case

The judge could decide to close the case if:

  • you do not have arrears at the time of the hearing

  • your lender started court action without a good reason

This means there will be no further court action.

You might hear this described as dismissal or the case being dismissed or struck out.

You may still have to pay court costs and your lender’s legal costs.

Set a possession date

The judge will usually say you have to leave your home if you:

  • do not go to the hearing

  • cannot afford to repay the arrears by the end of your mortgage term

They do this with an outright possession order.

The possession order will have a date when your lender can apply for bailiffs to evict you.

This is normally 28 days after the hearing.

Your lender cannot make you leave your home at this point.

They must follow the repossession process and get a bailiffs warrant first.

The date for possession could be later than 28 days if your situation could improve.

For example, if you have evidence that you:

  • have a job offer

  • will be getting money soon

  • are selling your home and need more time

You can apply to change the court order if your situation improves after it's made.

Change the terms of your mortgage agreement

A judge can sometimes change the terms of your mortgage agreement with a time order.

They could change the:

  • amount you pay each month

  • term of your mortgage

  • interest you pay

For example if:

  • you cannot afford your repayments but your situation is likely to improve

  • your mortgage term has ended and there is an outstanding balance

  • the amount you owe has increased because of how interest is calculated

Time orders are not common.

The judge is more likely to make a suspended possession order.

You need a legal adviser to explain to the judge why they should make a time order.

If you want to change a court order

You can get a court order changed in some circumstances.

For example, if you:

  • had a good reason for not going to the hearing, such as being in hospital

  • clear all your arrears and want to remove a suspended order

  • have a change in circumstances

You may need to get legal help to change a court order.

You cannot usually change an order if you went to the hearing but do not agree with what the judge decided.

If you are going to court

Our guide on what to do if you lender lender starts court action gives more advice on how to get ready.

Last updated: 23 February 2023

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