I’m Joanne. I’ve lived and breathed property for longer than I care to remember.
Without question, this month’s topic of repossession is one of the hardest parts of my job. When someone calls in dire need of help, sometimes with the Bailiffs quite literally on their way, it’s a really challenging world to step in to.
But to be able to lend support, to guide them through this challenging time using my many years of experience and extensive knowledge about the entire process is rewarding and humbling.
So this month I have delved into this subject a bit deeper with my followers on Facebook and Instagram – in order to educate and hopefully alleviate some concern if you currently find yourself in this situation.
The stats aren’t good. Compared to the same quarter in 2018, mortgage possession claims increased by 11% in 2019. So what can you do?
The first step to avoiding repossession.
COMMUNICATE. This has almost become my mantra, and I cannot stress this point strongly enough. Just like any other relationship – there must be trust and communication. Speak with your mortgage provider, tell them everything about your situation and keep them updated as it changes.
This communication shows the provider that you aren’t shying away from the issue, that you are willing to tackle it. It establishes a good relationship whereby you might be in better favour with them, should steps need to be taken.
The second step to avoiding repossession.
Being honest with yourself and your mortgage provider about what you can afford, should you need to set up monthly repayments. If you overestimate what you can pay, if you think too optimistically, you might find yourself struggling to keep up with a repayment plan. Not paying your mortgage is very worrying, not paying an agreed payment plan is much more concerning.
What happens if your mortgage lender doesn’t agree to a payment plan?
If you can’t agree on a repayment plan, or you can’t keep up the payments, the lender will start court proceedings. At this point, you should seek some legal advice. When you go to court, the judge will decide if you can continue to pay your mortgage as well as son of the arrears back in a repayment plan. There are two potential outcomes, a suspended possession or an outright possession order.
What is a suspended possession order?
It is the judge deciding that the lender can only have your property back IF you break certain conditions. For example, you may get a suspended possession order, with the condition you pay £500 per month. As long as you keep up with your £500 per month then your home is safe.
What is an outright possession order?
Unfortunately this means that the judge has ruled that your home will be repossessed. Even in this scenario, it is not too late.
If you can demonstrate that someone will buy the property from you, the court may allow time for the sale to go through. As our case study shows, this is possible, even 24 hours before the Bailifs are due.
To do this, you need to complete an N244 form and submit it to court. Form N244 enables you to make an application to a court (‘application notice’). You use this ‘application notice’ to ask a court to set aside or vary a judgment or suspend an enforcement process.
Reposession Case Study.
Tom had a three-bedroom property in Basildon. His relationship had broken down, and he had lost his job. As a result of his life circumstances, he was struggling financially. Sadly, he didn’t communicate with his mortgage company to let them know the situation, and in fact, put all of the letters he received, unopened, straight into a carrier bag. He had missed a court hearing because of this, had a repossession notice served, and it was around 24 hours before the bailiff would be arriving.
He called me for help, and I sifted through his paperwork to get a picture of the situation. I got him an emergency court hearing for the following morning where we managed to put a stop on the possession order and gave us some time to start working through the problems. Instead of Tom’s house being repossessed, it was sold, giving him some capital to start afresh. I also got various people involved to support Tom as he was having a tough time managing life at the time. He was then housed in a property that I let out, so I was content in the knowledge that he was safe and getting the support he needed.
Although there isn’t a direct benefit that you can claim for if you are facing repossession, there is a loan benefit that you can apply for. Read more here: https://www.gov.uk/support-for-mortgage-interest
You can complete an N244 form and submit it to court to ask them to set aside or vary a judgment or suspend an enforcement process. This could be because you have arranged for the sale of the property, or set up a payment plan that you can stick to, to get the arrears cleared.
If you find yourself at risk of repossession, Shelter offers lots of advice and support.