A Guide to Repossession : How to Save Your Home Part 1

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1. Understanding the Repossession Process

Why Lenders Take Proceedings:-

Under the terms of your mortgage contract, your lender will have the right to issue proceedings if you do not make your required payments. Normally 2 months arrears is sufficient to enable a lender to take action. In reality, lenders try and avoid taking proceedings and will generally be willing to come to an arrangement to clear the arrears. If the lender has concerns about the level of the arrears, or is not satisfied with your proposals to repay the arrears, they will take possession action in your local County Court. They do this so that they can take control of your property, sell it, and recover the mortgage balance outstanding.

The Stages Involved:-

In House – Initially the lender will manage the account within their Arrears Collection Department. They will write letters and perhaps telephone to chase missed payments. It is important to keep your lender informed of your current position and to try to come to an agreement to clear the arrears off over a period of time.
Solicitors – If the arrears go beyond a certain level (generally 4-6 months +), lenders will refer the account to their Solicitors – the first step will be for the solicitors to write to you demanding full payment and warning that repossession proceedings will result if the account is not brought up to date. Again, make contact with the Solicitors and try to come to an arrangement to make ongoing payments, and to clear the arrears over time.

Possession Proceedings –

Often at 6+ months arrears, the solicitors will issue County Court Repossession proceedings. The court will set a hearing date. You should attend. See ‘’How to Prepare for a Court Hearing’ for detailed guidance.

Court Order –

At a possession hearing the court can make a number of orders:-
1. Adjourn the hearing to a new date (if for some reason the hearing cannot proceed due to absence, or the need for further information or clarification)
2. Dismiss the application or Adjourn it generally (indefinitely) – usually only following full payment of the arrears
3. Make an Order for Possession (usually giving the lender the right to possession after a fixed period; typically 28 days)
– Note – Even if a Possession Order has been made, A Quick Sale may be able to offer a solution – see ‘How We Can Help’. It’s never too late!
4. Make an Order for Possession, suspended upon payment of the current monthly instalment, and an agreed amount towards the arrears (see ‘How to Prepare for a Court Hearing’ . This order is very readily applied by the courts. It gives you a further chance, and also gives the lender security. If payment is defaulted upon, the lender has an immediate right to seek possession by Possession Warrant (see below)

Possession Warrant –

If an Order for Possession (see above) is made, and you remain after the date the court has ordered you to leave, or if a Suspended Possession Order has been made, and you have defaulted upon payment, the lender will apply to the court for formal eviction. You will receive a date and time from the court when you must leave. The court bailiff will arrive with a representative of the lender and a locksmith to take formal possession of the property. Even up to the day before eviction, A Quick Sale may be able to offer a solution – see ‘How We Can Help’. It’s never too late!

2. How to Prepare for a Court Hearing

On receipt of the Court Possession Summons – complete the reply form confirming your intentions. If you wish to remain at the property, state this on the form. Also put down details of your income and outgoings. The court will require evidence that you can meet the current monthly instalment and an amount towards the arrears. Send this back to the court and keep a copy for your records.

Even at this stage it is worth contacting the lender to see if they will agree to a suspended possession order based upon payment of the current instalment and an amount towards the arrears.

Attend the hearing! Do so even if the lender suggests there is no point because the court will order possession, and even if an agreement in principle is in place with the lender. If you do not attend, the court have almost no alternative but to order possession against you.

The hearings are in private chambers and the District Judge will help you case your position by asking relevant questions.

If you wish to remain, make an offer to pay the current monthly instalment, and an additional amount to clear the arrears – If the court is  satisfied that you can maintain this, the District Judge will invariably grant you the opportunity to stay by making a Suspended Order for Possession (See ‘Understanding the Possession Process’)

If you default upon payment, or a Court Possession Order has been made, or a Possession Warrant has been issued, you can still make an application to the court to suspend possession upon payment of the mortgage + arrears (your prospects of success will be largely dependant upon a variety of factors; the level of arrears, the amount of equity in the property, your financial position, and any previous orders that have been defaulted upon)

At any stage of the possession process, and prior to eviction, A Quick Sale may be able to help (see ‘How We Can Help’) – It’s never too late!

3. Questions & Answers

Q. I’ve got a court hearing but I can’t attend. What should I do?
A. Wherever possible, make every effort to attend. If you have a joint mortgage, only one party need attend. Your home is at risk – so making yourself available is paramount – If you absolutely cannot attend, set out your position in writing, and confirm to the court what you would like to do.

Q. Do I need a lawyer to attend Court?
A. No. You can get one, but they are expensive – typically £130-175 per hour + VAT. This money is often better spent in an offer to repay the arrears. Some courts have Debt Councillors available at repossession hearings (some Citizen’s Advice Bureaus provide this service) who can help. Ask the court usher upon arrival.

Q. The Court has made an order for possession / eviction. Is there anything I can do?
A. Yes. You can contact A Quick Sale to see if we can structure a solution. See ‘How We Can Help’

Q. How quickly can Repossession be Stopped?
A. Depending upon the circumstances, we can stop repossession right up to the date of eviction. See ‘How We Can Help’ – However we
strongly recommend that you contact us as soon as possible so that we can examine your situation and try to put together a solution to
save your home.

Q. If I hand back the keys – Is that the end of the matter?
A. No. The lender will sell the house. If there is a shortfall, the lender can recover this from you for up to 12 years (5 years in Scotland). Also,
you will be responsible for ongoing mortgage interest payments until sale and all sale costs. This will include locksmiths costs, solicitors fees
on repossession and re-sale, surveyors fees, estate agents fees and utility bills. See ‘Tips Following Repossession’

Q. Will my credit rating be affected?
A. Yes. A County Court Judgment will be registered against you which will remain on the Register of County Court Judgments for 6 years. The lender will also register the repossession on the Council of Mortgage Lenders register which will make obtaining a future mortgage very difficult

Q. Do A Quick Sale make any charges for their service?
A. None, ever, guaranteed. If we are able to put forward a solution to save your home, all the costs, including survey’s and legal fees are covered by ourselves

4. A Quick Sale – How We Can Help
We act quickly. We will discuss your situation and gather vital information to assess your current situation. We treat each situation sympathetically, and know that everybody’s case is unique.

We work with you. We find out what you want to achieve, and wherever possible work towards providing a solution which meets your goals
If you are unable to reach agreement with your lender to secure your home – rather than ‘throwing in the towel’ and losing your home, we can offer flexible alternatives that will allow you to stay in your home.

If we are able to provide a solution to your situation, we will cover your legal fees to allow representation by repossession specialist lawyers. They can act quickly and secure time on your behalf by contacting the lender, making applications to court, and attending at court – It is never too late. Even the day before eviction, our lawyers may be able to secure the time to allow you to stay in your home.

At no point will we charge you for any of the services provided. We cover all the costs, including legal fees (ours and yours), surveyor’s fees, and court fees.
Here are some of the common flexible options available:-

Straight Purchase
We can buy your house – this avoids repossession (and credit black listing and a CML repossession registry entry). If you have sufficient to clear the mortgage account, surplus equity can release cash for your immediate use. This can go towards a new house, rentaldeposit, or to simply help you get back on your feet Sale and Rent Back.We can buy your house, and rent it back to you at the market rate – sometimes we can even agree a rent free period, giving you time and breathing space to clear other debts

Rent Back – With an Option to Buy Back
In addition to renting your home back to you, we can give you an option to buy back your home, for an agreed price, within a certain period of time – typically up to 2 years Option Payment to Clear Arrears with Buy Out Provision.

If your arrears are a short term ‘cash flow’ issue, we can provide immediate funds to clear your debt and to remove the threat of eviction. This is secured by an option to buy to your home in our favour, which is not implemented for an agreed period of time (usually between 6-9 months). This can include payment of your ongoing monthly mortgage payments, so you need not worry about falling behind again. You then have some breathing space to sell your house in a controlled manner at the full market value – you then buy out our option for an agreed fee – you pocket the cash equity.

Examples:-

Mrs G – Yorkshire
She was facing repossession. She had mounting arrears and credit card debts and had lost all hope of keeping her house. She contacted A Quick Sale. Within 2 days, a sale had been agreed. Repossession action was halted. Her mortgage account and credit cards were cleared, and she remained in the house as a tenant – paying substantially less than her previous monthly mortgage payment.

Mr H – Notts
The court had refused his application to suspend possession, and he was 2 days away from eviction. We agreed a deal on the same day that he contacted us. Our lawyers contacted the lender and agreed to clear the arrears immediately to allow the sale to go through. Mr H now rents the property, and has agreed an option to buy it back at a later date.

Mr & Mrs K- Leicestershire
They were faced with eviction – they wanted to sell their house but had run out of time. We agreed to take an option to purchase the house for an agreed sum, but deferred 7 months. The option fee cleared the mortgage arrears to halt the possession proceedings. We also paid ongoing mortgage payments to ease their burden. They sold the house 3 months later at its full market value, and bought themselves out of the option for the agreed fee, retaining the majority of their equity.

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