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What to do if your mortgage lender starts court action

What to say to the judge

You can explain to the judge why you should keep your home or sell it yourself.

You can:

  • show you can pay back the money you owe

  • ask for more time to sort things out

  • tell the judge if your lender has not followed the rules

You can ask the duty adviser or your solicitor to speak on your behalf.

The judge may ask questions. Answer any questions they ask you directly.

Your adviser or solicitor can tell you how to address the judge.

Be polite and do not interrupt

The judge will ask you or your adviser to speak after the lender’s representative.

The lender's representative will usually tell the judge:

  • how much you owe

  • when you last made a payment

  • if you have a repayment plan

  • what they are asking the court to do

  • how the lender has followed the rules on repossession

You can then tell the judge what your plan is.

If you are with another joint owner, agree who will speak and what you want to say before.

The judge makes a decision when they have heard from both you and the lender.

Make an offer

You need to show you can pay your mortgage and arrears.

If you are offering to make regular payments, show you can afford both:

  • your monthly mortgage payment

  • a set amount towards your arrears every month

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.

This is the smallest amount a court will usually accept.

You can use the income and expenditure sheet sent with the defence form.

You can also show a financial statement put together with a debt adviser.

Bring evidence of your income and outgoings.

Ask for time

If you cannot afford to pay back the arrears, you could ask for time to:

The court can ask for evidence you are selling your home.

You also need evidence if your situation is changing. For example, the date when you will be starting a new job or proof of an inheritance.

The judge may decide to delay their decision. This will increase your court costs.

They may make something called a suspended possession order. This means you keep your home as long as you keep to an agreement, such as paying part of your arrears each month.

Raise other issues

Get advice if you think your lender has not kept to rules lenders must follow.

If the lender has made mistakes in the claim form, the court might close the case or give the lender time to fix things. For example, if the amount they say you owe is incorrect.

You can also ask the court to delay your case while you make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service if:

  • your lender has broken the rules

  • you were given wrong information about the mortgage

The Ombudsman can look at the way the lender handled your case.

Sometimes the Ombudsman will tell the lender to stop court action to repossess your home and come to a fair repayment agreement out of court.

Ask for things to be repeated

It's better to do this than miss something important.

You might not get a copy of the order made for several weeks.

Write down what the judge tells you to pay and when you have to pay it.

What will the judge say?

Find out about decisions a judge can make at a mortgage repossession hearing.

Last updated: 6 March 2023

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