When the lender takes action against you
If you are behind on your mortgage payments and your lender starts, or is about to take legal action case, you should get professional advice. You need to work out a repayment proposal you can afford and give this to your lender.
When faced with repossession, contact your solicitor or a free advice agency:
They can look at your situation, advise you about options and help you with all the other steps you will need to go through, including appearing in court.
You should also get your adviser’s help to prepare a budget of your income and outgoings. This will help work out whether you can afford to pay the mortgage instalment and arrears (amount of payment overdue) over a period of time, perhaps identifying expenses you can reduce, prioritise or stop.
Contact the lender
Before the court date, you should contact the lender directly or through an advice worker or your solicitor to:
- make a proposal that will let you pay the mortgage instalments and pay off the arrears within a reasonable time
- let them know if you have put the house up for sale or if you plan to do so shortly
Any proposal should be your best realistic proposal. You should never make unrealistic arrangements for payment.
If you're selling the house, you should bring a letter to court from the estate agent which:
- confirms that the property is for sale
- states the asking price and whether it is realistic in the circumstances
- indicates how easy or difficult the agent thinks it will be to sell the property
- states any offers received and for how much
- states the agent’s opinion about timescale for finding a buyer
Go to court
When faced with repossession, it is important to go to court on the given date and time. At the hearing, you or your solicitor, barrister or advice worker should be able to provide:
- an explanation about why you are behind in your mortgage payments
- details of your financial and other relevant circumstances
- your best realistic proposal to sort out the situation
Prepare relevant documents
You should bring all relevant documents to court, including:
- all letters from the lender
- notes of telephone calls or meetings with the lender
- a completed budget form
- proof of your salary or benefits
- a letter from the estate agent if you are selling the house
- a letter from the new lender if you have applied for a re-mortgage
- proof of a change of circumstances such as a job offer
- proof of money you have due to you, such as backdated benefit or compensation that has not yet been paid to you or copies of unpaid invoices
If your arrears have arisen because of illness, or you have a medical condition which may prevent you from working or making payments for a period of time, you should also bring a letter from your GP, consultant or medical social worker explaining your condition or health conditions.
If you are relying on the income as a result of a court or tribunal case, you should bring a letter from your solicitor explaining:
- whether liability has been admitted, and if not, the solicitor or barrister’s view of the prospect of winning the case or settling it satisfactorily
- the likely amount of damages or compensation if the claim is successful
- whether proceedings have been issued or started and likely timescale for resolving the claim
If you cannot find any or all of these documents, you should still go to the court.