You won't always lose your home if you have mortgage arrears. You can take steps at each stage to avoid repossession.
1. Lender contacts you about mortgage arrears
Your lender will contact you if you miss a mortgage payment. They will ask you how you plan to pay back any arrears.
Get debt advice so you can understand your options.
You can take steps to deal with mortgage arrears by:
- looking at your income and outgoings
- prioritising your debts
- preparing a financial statement
You may be able to agree an affordable repayment plan with your lender.
Alternatively, you might decide that your mortgage is unaffordable and ask the lender for time to sell your home.
2. Lender starts court action
Your lender may start court action to repossess your home if you can't agree a repayment plan. This should be a last resort.
They must provide you with a list of all missed payments, the total level of arrears and the outstanding mortgage debt before they apply to court.
There are other rules the lender must follow before starting court action.
Get legal advice if your lender starts court action.
3. The court sends you paperwork
You get paperwork from the court that tells you:
- date, time and place of the hearing
- details about your mortgage and missed payments
You have 3 to 8 weeks from when you get the paperwork until the hearing.
Use this time to prepare for the hearing.
4. You attend the possession hearing
It's very important to attend the hearing.
If you don't turn up, the court will probably make an outright possession order and you could lose your home.
If you don't have a legal representative, you can usually get help on the day from an adviser on the county court duty scheme.
5. The court makes a decision
There are 2 types of possession order:
- an outright order
- a suspended order
An outright possession order is very serious. It sets a date for you to leave your home. This could be as soon as 4 weeks after the hearing.
Contact a Shelter adviser if the judge makes an outright possession order. You may be able to get it set aside or changed to a suspended order.
A suspended order allows you to stay in your home on the terms set by the court. You have to pay a set amount on top of your normal monthly mortgage payment.
Sometimes the lender's repossession action is dismissed or adjourned at the hearing.
Find out more about the court's decision in mortgage repossession cases.
6. When bailiffs can be asked to evict you
Your lender can ask bailiffs to carry out an eviction if the court has made:
- an outright order and the date for possession has passed
- a suspended order and you break the terms of the order
Your lender must apply for an eviction warrant from the court. They must send a notice to your home to say they've done this.
You could be evicted 14 days after this notice unless you take action.
7. Sale of your home by the lender
If an eviction takes place, the mortgage lender will sell your home.
After the sale, the lender and any other secured creditors get their money and you receive anything left over.
You may have to pay off any mortgage shortfall to the lender if what you owe is more than the amount the property sells for.
Last updated 04 Nov 2019 | © Shelter
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