The house repossession process – what happens, when?
Step one of the house repossession process
If you miss two or more mortgage repayments, your mortgage lender is legally entitled to kick off the house repossession process. But before they call on the legal system, their internal debt management department will get in touch.
They’ll try their best to advise you, finding the cause of the problem and suggesting practical solutions. If they can help, they will; repossessing your home is a last resort. Keep all the correspondence about any new agreement you reach, and make detailed notes. If things don’t get better, you might need them later.
After a few more months of unpaid arrears your lender, or more likely their solicitor, will write you a letter. This will warn you that they’re poised to begin the house repossession process by taking you to court. At the same time they can apply for a repossession order.
The court will send you a summons. This letter tells you the date of your hearing.
If you don’t turn up and the home repossession process goes through without opposition, the judge has to award a repossession order (or notice) against you.
If you turn up, you’ll get a fair say. The judge will hear all the evidence from you and your mortgage lender before deciding what to do, and there are several possible outcomes:
• House repossession process case dismissed. The repossession stops because you have paid your arrears.
• Case Adjourned. If the case can’t be heard that day, a new date will be set.
• Suspended Possession Order. If you’ve agreed to make your usual monthly mortgage repayments plus something towards the arrears and the judge is sure you can afford it, he or she will aim to suspend the order. If you default, your lender can force possession or evict you without another hearing.
• Repossession Order. This lets your lender repossess your home, usually within 28 days; more likely if the judge discovers you’ve made no effort to put things right, or feels you have no chance of managing the repayment schedule.
The final part of the house repossession process. If your suspended repossession order fails or you’re still living in the property after the order date, your lender can apply for a warrant of eviction notice. This is a letter reminding you that you are legally obliged to leave. You’ll have between seven and fourteen days before they send the bailiff in to remove you.
This is a guide to the several steps involved with house repossession, the best place to start asking further questions is from your lender. Your lender may offer a clear way out of repossession but always read the fine print.
What have you done to help stop house repossession? Leave your comment below.