Members of the devolved Scottish Parliament have backed a change in the law which will make it more difficult for homes to be repossessed in Scotland.
The Home Owner and Debtor Protection Bill, which will ensure that lenders have to wait longer before seizing properties as well as putting onus on the lender to prove they have taken reasonable steps to prevent repossession of private properties, gained cross party support. Residents will also be given the right to a court hearing before repossession can be authorised. The net effect will be a three-year debt-clearing opportunity before the lender can sell the home to settle the debt.
Graeme Brown, director of housing charity Shelter Scotland, said:
“The Scottish government’s action to bring forward these additional protections for homeowners is timely, particularly amid the current financial climate, and Scotland’s flagship commitment to give everyone the right to a home by 2012.”
The Council of Mortgage Lenders expressed the concern that delayed repossessions would make it more difficult for Scots to borrow in future.
However, the Housing and Communities Minister, Alex Neil, said that the new moves were aimed at preventing families from getting caught in a debt trap. He went on to say:
“Our response, embodied in this bill, has been to act quickly to introduce more protection for homeowners and to offer support to those people who currently cannot access debt solutions.
“Finally, they are protected with the full weight of the law. In implementing the provisions in the bill, we will continue in the spirit of co-operation that has been a feature of discussions among all political parties in the chamber.”