What to do if your mortgage lender starts court action
Get debt and legal advice
You do not have to do this alone. You should get debt advice and legal advice.
Speak to a debt adviser
These charities give free debt advice:
A debt adviser can help you to prioritise debts, draw up a financial statement and make a repayment plan for mortgage arrears and other debts.
They could also get you on the breathing space scheme which pauses mortgage repossession action for 2 months while you get advice.
Find a legal adviser
A legal adviser or solicitor can:
fill in court documents
negotiate with your lender
speak for you at the court hearing
You could get free legal help if you have a low income. You may not get this help if you have lots of equity in your home.
Call 0345 345 4 345 to get free legal help from Civil Legal Advice. They could make you an appointment with a local solicitor.
Try to get legal help as soon as you get letters from the court.
If you cannot get free help before your hearing, you can usually get help on the day from a court duty scheme adviser.
Your income and how much your home is worth do not affect help on the day of your hearing.
Ask your council for help
You can ask your council for help if you are at risk of losing your home.
All councils must give housing advice and try to stop you becoming homeless.
Look at your income and spending
Look at your monthly income and outgoings to see if there's anywhere you could save money to help you repay mortgage arrears.
Check your current mortgage interest rate and monthly payment amount.
Use our advice and template to show you can pay off your mortgage arrears.
Suggest a repayment plan
You can make a repayment proposal to your lender if you have some money left over each month after paying your bills and essential spending.
You can do this at any stage of the repossession process.
Make sure your plan is realistic and reasonable
A judge will usually let you stay in your home if you can show that you can pay both:
your monthly mortgage payment
a set amount towards your arrears each month
The plan needs to show you have enough money left over every month to pay a regular amount towards the arrears until they are paid off.
How to work out a minimum payment offer:
Amount of arrears ÷ number of months until mortgage end = minimum payment
Example: You have £3,000 arrears and have 10 years (120 months) until the end of your mortgage term. You could offer £25 a month on top of your normal monthly payment.
Calculation: £3000 mortgage arrears ÷ 120 months = £25 a month towards the arrears.
If your lender agrees before the hearing
You will still need to go the hearing, unless the court tells you it's cancelled.
Take the agreement with you. This will help you show the judge you should keep your home.
If your lender rejects your offer
They have to give you a reason in writing within 10 working days.
Your lender might suggest a different repayment plan.
Take any letters or emails from them with you to the hearing.
Decide what to do if you cannot make a repayment offer
If you do not have enough money left over each month to make a repayment proposal, you might choose to sell your home to avoid repossession.
You will need to discuss this with any joint owners. For example, your partner or ex partner.
Last updated: 6 March 2023