Home Repossession, Mortgage Arrears & Eviction Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Read some of the most common questions and anwsers about home repossession, mortgage arrears, repossession orders and evictions.

What exactly is repossession?

Repossession is a legal process whereby the mortgage lender gets a court order to take possession of a property as a result of non payment of the mortgage.

How can I keep repossession at bay?

The answer to keeping repossession of your home at bay is to effectively manage your money. There are three key ways of doing so:

  • Attempt to keep approximately three months' salary in a savings account.
  • Ensure you have sufficient insurance for critical illness and loan protection.
  • Keep an eye on your monthly outgoings and work out whether there is anything you can cut down on?

Should you end up struggling to pay the mortgage inform your mortgage lender immediately.

How to stop repossession?

You can stop repossession at any time. Initially attempt to settle the matter with your mortgage lender.

Should you not have received written confirmation from your mortgage lender that it is taking no further action before the court date you need to attend the court with evidence of all communication to date.

Repossession can be stopped in one of three ways:

  • your circumstances change and you can afford your monthly mortgage payments
  • a buyer purchases your home
  • you can pay off the entire amount you owe on your mortgage by selling other assets or getting a new mortgage.

When you have evidence of the above, such as, an offer from a buyer or an employer's letter, you can commence with the proceedings.

What does a repossession involve?

First your mortgage lender informs you that you are in mortgage arrears. If you fail to resolve the situation the mortgage lender will commence court proceedings after approximately 6 months of being in arrears. You will get a date for a court hearing which you have to attend. Should the matter still not be resolved, the repossession order can be granted and you will be ordered to leave your home.

How quickly can a repossession be stopped?

Repossession can be easily stopped at any time.

It is advisable to settle the matter with your lender initially. If you have not had written confirmation that the lender is taking no further action prior to the court date you should attend the court with evidence of all communication to date.

As soon as you have any evidence of being able to stop the repossession e.g. an employer's letter, an offer from a buyer etc., you can start to halt the proceedings.

How is repossession going to impact upon family life?

Repossession can impact upon family life in different ways.

Families feel a deep sense of loss at having their home taken from them. Parents and children usually feel ashamed at the transition from 'owner' to 'renter'. There is of course the added burden of looking for somewhere else to live and the stress of moving to another property.

Repossession also impacts on the mental and physical well being of individuals, their future aspirations and ambition. Repossession can also place a great strain on family relationships.

What you ought to do if you are in arrears with your mortgage payments

Once you know that you are having problems with your mortgage lender, get in touch with your lender. Explain the situation and any ways in which you can resolve it. Mortgage lenders are often much more sympathetic about the situation if you discuss your situation with them as opposed to you ignoring them.

Attempt to resolve your financial problems. Consider whether or not remortgaging your property, consolidating your debt or raising some money to pay off your arrears is the option for you. Repossession ought to always be the last resort.

What does having been given a court date mean to you?

Should you have been given a court hearing date this signifies that you are behind with your mortgage payments enough for you mortgage lender to have commenced with the legal process towards repossession.

You are going to need to attend the court hearing yourself. Attempt to collect and take along with you any evidence in respect of your financial situation and what you are attempting to do to resolve the situation. Going to court does not automatically mean your home will be repossessed. There could be a number of possible outcomes of the court hearing.

Where can I live after having my home repossessed?

When you are given a repossession order, you will be supplied with a date by which you will have to vacate the property.

You can stay with friends or family then, or go to a homeless shelter. In the long term you may consider renting, purchasing another property, even though it could be difficult for you to obtain a mortgage or applying for a council house or housing association place.

Local councils are legally obliged to assist those who are homeless or on the verge of losing their homes. They can offer emergency accommodation, advice and/or longer term housing. Your personal circumstances will affect your rights. Yet at the very least the local authority needs to consider your situation and provide you with advice with regard to helping you find a home.

What happens after the granting of a possession order?

Should the court order a repossession, it is going to set a date by which you need to move out. Should you not have left by that date, your mortgage lender or freeholder can request the bailiffs to evict you. Even then, it is possible to halt the eviction.

Should you not have removed your possessions, they will remain locked inside. Should this be the case you are going to have to make arrangements with your mortgage lender or freeholder to collect your possessions later. You are usually given a fortnight or so to remove everything. Should the sale of your home not cover all the costs involved you could be instructed to leave a proportion of your possessions for the mortgage lender to sell.

You could apply to halt or delay the bailiffs, especially if you have young children or you are ill and are in need of a greater period of time to find somewhere else to live.

Should you raise some finance or your situation change and you can pay off the arrears, get immediate advice as you could be able to halt the repossession.

What occurs in court?

Hearings are normally held in the judge's private room or chambers. In certain cases hearings could occur in an open courtroom. However, members of the public are not permitted in to the hearing.

A judge is going to hear your case. You and your mortgage lender are both going to have the opportunity to speak. You and the claimant can have a solicitor or advisor to represent you. You can take a friend along with you to assist you in court. However, if you wish for them to speak for you, you need to check whether or not the judge will permit this.

Upon examination of all the evidence the judge is going to make a decision regarding the repossession.

What happens should the matter be adjourned?

If the outcome of a repossession hearing is that the matter is to be adjourned, this means another date is going to be set for the hearing when a decision will be made. There may be an adjournment as not all of the information is available for the judge to decide at that time.

What does a postponed possession order mean?

A postponed possession order can be granted should you be able to convince the judge that you are attempting to pay off the arrears and are soon going to be able to do so.

What does suspended possession order mean?

A suspended possession order is an order that has been granted. However, you are not going to be repossessed as long as you maintain repayments. Should you not maintain repayments towards the arrears then your mortgage lender can obtain an eviction warrant without needing a court hearing.

What is a time order?

If you have a secured loan or second mortgage the court can lower your payments by altering the interest rate on your loan or elongating the term of your loan. This is known as a time order. You will have to inform the judge at the hearing that you would like a time order.

When can a repossession not be stopped?

Repossession can be stopped at any time up to the time your mortgage lender sells your property. Should you have been evicted it may still not be too late to stop repossession.

Should your financial situation improve or is resolved you ought to notify your mortgage lender and the court.

Is repossession going to affect my credit rating?

Having your home repossessed means you are going to have a poor credit rating and you are likely not to be able to get another mortgage. Your name will be placed on to the Possessions Register held by the two leading British credit reference agencies, Equifax and Experian.