What to do if your mortgage lender starts court action
What to do at the hearing
New rules mean that a judge will review your case to decide whether there needs to be a full hearing.
The review is an opportunity for you to get advice if you haven’t already. An adviser may be able to help you reach an agreement with your lender.
If there is a repossession hearing, then it’s important to attend. It’s your chance to explain to the judge why your home shouldn't be repossessed.
What happens at the review
You don’t attend court on the review date, but you should make sure you’re available to talk over the phone. You’ll get at least 3 weeks' notice of the review.
You can get free legal advice over the phone from a duty adviser. They may be able to help you come to an agreement with your lender about repaying the arrears or getting time to sell.
If there’s no agreement, the judge will look at the paperwork and can:
set a date for a hearing
dismiss the claim – if your lender has made an error
give directions – to give you or your lender time to do something
The court won’t make a repossession order at the review unless you agree to this.
Don’t agree to give up your home without getting advice.
The repossession hearing
The hearing will normally be 4 weeks after the review date.
Mortgage repossession hearings usually take place in your local county court. The letter you get from the court tells you the address and the time of your hearing.
It’s important to attend the hearing. If you can’t go you should tell the court as soon as possible. For example, if you’re self isolating. You may be able to attend by phone or video.
What to bring
You should bring 3 copies of all your paperwork, including:
the defence form if you haven’t submitted it
a financial statement if you have one
proof of income, such as payslips or benefit awards
evidence if you’re selling, such as letters about a sale
If a payment was made recently the lenders records may not have been updated, so bring evidence, for example a bank statement.
It’s a good idea to prepare notes about what you want to say.
When you get to court
When you arrive go to reception and ask for the court usher.
The usher will tell you what room your hearing will be in. You'll have to wait for your case to be called.
You’ll need to follow court guidance on face coverings and social distancing.
Get advice at court
Ask to speak to the duty adviser if you don’t have a solicitor or adviser with you.
You can get free advice regardless of your income or how much your home is worth.
A duty adviser can assess your case before you go in and speak for you in the hearing.
If the lender’s representative speaks to you
The lender’s representative may approach you before the hearing to try and negotiate.
Don't feel pressured into agreeing repayment terms that you can’t afford. You should wait for the judge to look at your case.
You can also ask a duty adviser to negotiate with them for you.
During the hearing
The hearing will only last about 15 minutes.
You can speak for yourself or your solicitor can speak for you.
If your adviser is not a solicitor, they can speak for you if they are part of the court's duty scheme or work under the supervision of a solicitor.
Otherwise they must ask the judge for permission.
Last updated: 30 October 2020