In the last post we spoke about the repossession hotspots and the potential for profit presented by repossessed houses for sale. Nonetheless, it would be thoughtless if we didn’t give the other side of the equation – each repossessed home represents a personal tragedy.
If you have received a repossession order your first response will probably be to panic; as difficult as it may seem – don’t, there is still time to act and prevent your home from being repossessed. Even if the repossession proceeding have started there is still quite a bit of time before the order has to be enforced – and it may also be adjourned to give you time to pay off the arrears.
Do not pay for advice, there is plenty of free advice around to help you deal with this situation and one of the best places you can go is the good old CAB
House Repossession and the Defence Form
You will receive a package of paperwork from the court, which will include:
- Copies of the claim for possession forms, completed by your lender
- A court hearing date
- A blank defence form and guidance on how to fill it out
- The court’s contact details
- Information about organisations offering free advice on repossessions
The Defence Form is expressly so you can tell the court about your circumstances and how they led to your current situation; you will also be given the opportunity to detail what attempts you’ve made to sort things out.
If the mortgage lender has said things that you don’t believe are true, the Defence Form is the place to argue your case. The information you give will help the judge to decide whether or not the mortgage lender needs to provide more information to prove their case. So you can see, it is important not to ignore this form but to use it to your best advantage.
In Questions 5 and 6 of the Defence Form you are given the opportunity to ask the court to scrutinize the fairness of your original mortgage agreement. If it is thought that the agreement was unfair to start off with there are number of actions open to the judge, for instance, he could make an order to extend the terms of the mortgage.
In Questions 7 to 10 of the Defence Form you can agree or disagree with the arrears figure the mortgage lender has given. This is also the place where you can propose a repayment plan, say, paying a regular amount off the arrears on a monthly basis.
Questions 11 to 25 are where you provide details of both your personal and financial circumstances. There’s a place where you list all incomings and outgoings and this will help the judge to decide whether or not to suspend the possession order. When this happens, the order is passed but you have a certain amount of time to pay off the arrears before it is actioned. Also in this section you will be able to give details of additional income – state benefits, say, or your partner’s salary – which may change the financial picture as far as the judge is concerned.
In the final section of the form you are able to explain:
- if you got into difficulties with the mortgage through no fault of your own
- what steps you have taken to clears the arrears
- any change of circumstances since the arrears built up, which mean you are in a better position to clear or reduce the arrears
- if you are selling or re-mortgaging the property and need more time to complete
- if your personal circumstances are such – for example due to ill health or disability – that a possession order would cause you particular hardship
It is no defence just to say you can’t pay the mortgage however!
If at all possible, you should send the defence form back to the court before the hearing – it should be returned within fourteen days at any rate. However, if time is short, just take the form to court on the day of the hearing.