Property repossession - the role of the court

If you have fallen behind with mortgage repayments and your lender has taken a case against you, you will be summoned to court. The court will consider the cases put forward by you and the lender before making a decision about what happens next.

What the court hearing decides

At the hearing, a Master (a High Court Judge) will decide if an order for possession (to repossess the property) should be made. The decision will take into account the information you and the lender give.

The Master has authority to give you time to address the arrears (payment overdue) or the entire mortgage debt. 

Adjourn the case

The Master can adjourn the hearing to allow you to:

  • negotiate a repayment plan with your lender
  • clear the arrears of your loan or mortgage
  • prepare further legal arguments

Suspended order for possession

The court may postpone the date for delivery of possession if it is satisfied that the defendant is likely to be able, within a reasonable period, to pay any sums due under the mortgage, or to remedy any other breach of the obligations under the mortgage.

The order will specify how much of the sum the defendant is ordered to pay should go towards the mortgage repayment and how much should go towards arrears.

A suspended possession order cannot be enforced by the lender without the permission of the court, which will only be granted after a further hearing.

Amending the suspenced order

If your circumstances change, for example you become unemployed or your salary is reduced, you may apply to the court to have the terms of the suspended order amended.

It's very important you tell your lender about the change in your circumstances and to negotiate an agreement. If you just stop your payments, your lender can seek a possession order from the court.

Regulated credit agreement

Where your mortgage or charge secures a regulated consumer credit agreement under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, a suspended order is called a time order.

If this act applies, it should be mentioned in a ‘regulated credit agreement’, which should be shown to the lender’s affidavit in the proceedings.

In some circumstances, the court may vary the terms of the credit agreement or mortgage to reduce the interest rate or extend the term of the loan so that the amount of the required monthly payments are reduced.

If you think a time order of this sort might be suitable for you, you should get legal or specialist advice – for example, from a solicitor or Housing Rights.

Stay of Enforcement of the possession order

After a Possession Order is granted but before actual repossession, you may apply to court to seek a stay of eviction which, if granted, prevents repossession for a certain defined period.

The stay of enforcement allows you more time to come to a suitable arrangement to pay the arrears on your mortgage/loan. It can also be used to allow you time to find alternative accommodation.

Making a stay application

A solicitor or Housing Rights advisor can help you make a stay application. You need to do this before eviction is due to take place.

An application for a stay involves filing and serving a summons and affidavit. The affidavit in support of your summons should:

  • explain who lives in the house and give details of their age and any relevant medical conditions
  • give reasons for the arrears
  • outline your past and present financial and other relevant circumstances and the material change or changes in circumstances since the possession order
  • include a completed financial statement

Making a proposal to the court

You need to put forward your best realistic proposal to pay off the arrears or the entire mortgage.

This means showing that you will be likely to pay the arrears within a reasonable time as well as paying the mortgage.

Where you offer to pay off some of the arrears each month, the proposal must allow the arrears to be cleared within a reasonable time but generally no later than the end of the mortgage term.

For example, if you have £12,000 arrears and 20 years left to run on the mortgage, an arrears payment of £50 or more each month will allow you to pay off the arrears in time.

The Master will expect you to make a higher offer if you can reasonably and safely afford it.

The Master may also adjourn to:

  • allow your circumstances to be clarified
  • make payments to the lender
  • arrange to sell your house

More useful links

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.