Repossession is at a 5 year high in the UK at the moment. The first thing to realise is that you’re not alone if you’re struggling to make repayments on your mortgage. Don’t panic. There are lots of things you can do, not least get help from a specialist organisation. Here is some information on how to stop repossession of a house.
In the UK you can be evicted and your home repossessed once the court has made a repossession order. But before you have a repossession order and given a date to leave, there are some stages beforehand that give you the opportunity to put things right.
What is the house repossession process?
The first step is the notice from your lender. Your lender will contact you directly and ask you to find a way of getting your missed repayments back on track. If you get this call don’t ignore it, talk to them and see if you can work out a repayment plan. Tell them what you can really afford not what they want to hear.
If they are not happy with this, they will write to you warning you that they are going to go to court. Once you have had the written warning, they can apply to the courts for a possession order.
Once again, don’t ignore the letter, talk to them. Tell them you want to work with them to resolve the backlog of missed repayments. Do it in writing and on the phone and keep a record, just in case it does go to court. In the meantime, get professional debt help. There are debt solutions that mean you keep your home available, but you’ll need to act quickly.
After trying to work through the problem with your lender, if you haven’t managed to find a resolution and you’ve had a court summons. The first thing you do is reply to the court. Failure to do so will not go down well. It’s still not too late to get help. If you haven’t already, please pick up the phone.
The day when the judge will hear from you and your lender before making a decision on what to do. He or she has a number of options that include:
- Strike it out
- Allow you to keep your home with a few conditions attached e.g. you repay the missed payments in instalments
- You have time to sell your property to prevent it from being repossessed and losing everything
- Decide you should be evicted and set a date (this is normally 1 month after repossession has been granted)
What decisions will the court make?
The court will decide whether a repossession order should be made or not. They may give the following orders:
- Suspended Possession Order: You can keep your house based on certain conditions.
- Outright Possession Order: This means your house will be repossessed by the lender.
- Order to Adjourn: This means the court hearing is postponed, as the case can not be decided.
If you do not understand your decision you must seek advice immediately from a solicitor, a housing advisor or the housing helpline Shelter. There is help available from a number of sources including the government Mortgage Rescue Scheme. But you do need specialist housing advice immediately. You may find the England Shelter website a useful resource.
How can I stop repossession of my house?
If you don’t have the money to pay the mortgage company or lender, you MUST get professional debt advice as soon as you can. The earlier you get advice the less severe the consequences of missing your mortgage repayments will be and the less likely it will be that you’ll lose your home.
You may be tempted by the idea of giving your keys back or a mortgage rescue scheme (selling your home and renting it back), but these are not great solutions and normally make your problems worse not better. You can stop the repossession yourself by completing an N244 form.
There are often straightforward ways of preventing matters going to court but you must talk to someone so they can understand your specific circumstances. There is a list of debt organisations on this site that can help you work through your debt problems and discuss the options you have available.
You may also want to read our article on wrongful repossession and how to complain.
I don’t own the house, will it still be repossessed?
It would depend on whether the property was ever linked to you beyond just living in in the house. If it had been owned by you in some way previously then there could be a possibility of enforcement against the property. On the other hand, if it was simply the house you just lived in and it was not linked to you then they cannot take the house to pay off your debt. If the house is at risk of repossession then they may need to take legal advice rather than debt advice.
How much debt do I owe?
You will need to contact the HMRC or the Enforcement Agents anyway to find out what the debt is that you owe. They will tell you what debt you owe, what it is for, how much it is, what action have they taken to recover the debt. From there it will either be correct or it will be incorrect and you will also know at what stage in the enforcement process they have reached. If you then want to dispute the debt you may wish to seek specialist advice.
Changes in circumstances
If your circumstances change (i.e you moved address), you must inform the HMRC / Enforcement Agents. You can identify your new address and enforcement agents will not be instructed to call to recover money from you at a house that you do not live in. You may need to provide proof that you no longer live at the previous property.
Need further help?
There is always help available for people in your situation, you do not need to live in fear. It’s probably best to seek the advice of an Independent Financial Adviser regarding your property. However, you should seek help from a money advice agency who will be able to assess your full situation and advise you on the options available to deal with your debt. They will be able to negotiate with creditors on your behalf and make sure you are maximising your income.
You may also want to contact Legal Aid to see if you qualify for assistance. Shelter and CAB are also good charities to help you in your situation. You may also want to read our article on voluntary repossession.