If you’ve fallen behind with your mortgage and fear losing your home, remember that there is help available. Don’t bury your head in the sand – it’s never too late to seek advice and get back on track.
Contact your lender
If you’ve missed mortgage payments, speak to your lender as soon as possible. The lender will be able to talk about your situation and help you avoid losing your home.
Your lender must follow a set of conditions called a ‘pre-action protocol’ to help you keep your home. If your case goes to court, both you and your lender have to prove to the judge that you have followed these conditions.
Your lender must:
- Tell you how exactly much you owe and any interest charges you’ll have to pay
- Consider a request from you to change the way you pay your mortgage
- Respond to any offer of payment you make
- If they turn down your offer of payment, they must explain their reasons within ten working days, and
- Give you 15 working days’ written warning if they plan to start court action because you haven’t kept to a repayment agreement
Options your lender might suggest
There are various options your lender must consider and, depending on your individual circumstances, might suggest to help you manage repayments. These may include:
- Extending the term of your mortgage
- Accepting reduced repayments
Bear in mind that these options may not always be in your best interests – speak to a free debt advice agency if you are at all unsure.
Contact your local authority
If your lender intends to take you to court, contact your local council who will put you in touch with local agencies which offer help and advice on how to prevent repossession.
Depending on your situation, they may also put you in touch with local authorities who may be able to buy a stake in your property or buy it outright and let it back to you. If considering this option, speak to a free debt advice service first.
Seek debt advice
There are several independent agencies that will provide free, impartial advice if you’re at risk of losing your home, including Citizens Advice, StepChange Debt Charity and Shelter and, in Wales, the Housing Debt Helpline. Follow the first link below for more details.
Preparing for court dates
If it gets to the stage where you are given a court date, remember that repossession doesn’t happen automatically. It’ still possible to get help and avoid losing your home, if you follow these steps:
- Read guidance on how to prepare for the hearing on the GOV.UK website.
- Work out your budget before you go to court. The judge will want to see how much you can afford to repay. Use our Budget planner to help you do this.
- Make sure you go to the court hearing. If you don’t, it’s very likely that your lender will be given the right to evict you.
- Ask to see a duty officer if you don’t have a debt adviser or solicitor with you. They can help you with your case and may be able to represent you. Their service is free.
- If your lender offers you a repayment arrangement outside the courtroom, make sure you understand the consequences before you agree to it. Only agree to something you believe you can keep to over the rest of the term of the mortgage.
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.