House repossession is a frightening prospect for anyone. This section explains what happens should you have to go to the county court for a repossession hearing.
Even if the process has already started it may not be too late. Any time up to about a day before the repossession (please try not to let it get this close) Stop Repossession Hull can stop your repossession by making an offer to buy the property and, if you want to rent it back, agree an amount to rent your property back to you.
Your lender will apply to your local county court for possession of your house. The court will then write to you stating the date, time and location of the repossession hearing. This letter is called a summons. You should be given at least 21 days notice of the repossession hearing. You should also receive a form called ‘particulars of claim’, which explains why your lender is seeking possession.
It is very important that you respond to this letter using the ‘defence form’. Ignoring it could harm your case. It is important that you start to collect evidence for the hearing and continue, or, start to communicate with your lenders. This is an ideal time to contact Stop Repossession Hull to sell your home, stop the repossession process and pay off your debts. You should use the ‘defence form’ to provide an indication of the following:
- your financial situation;
- any offers to repay the arrears;
- any other information that you think the judge needs to know, e.g. you have agreed to sell your house to stop repossession and clear your debts, or, why you missed payments.
You MUST return the ‘defence form’ within 14 days. Ensure you keep a copy of all correspondence you send to the court and your lenders, this is important evidence. The judge will review the details provided by both parties before the hearing. Even if you do not return the ‘defence form’ it is very important that you attend the court hearing.
What if you need more time?
At this stage the only way you will be able to get more time is if the court adjourns the hearing or by paying off your arrears. To get an adjournment you must attend the repossession hearing and ask the judge to adjourn the repossession process. The court would need a good reason to adjourn the hearing, reasons include:
- you have been ill and unable to prepare for court;
- you were on holiday when the summons arrived and you have only had a few days notice of the hearing;
- you need more time to get legal advice;
- you have had a change of circumstances which will improve, or even resolve, the situation.
At the County Court
At the repossession hearing both sides will get the opportunity to present their case. This is why it is so important that you prepare for the court hearing. The judge will make a decision based on this evidence and will do one of the following:
- adjourn the case;
- strike it out;
- allow you to stay in the property provided you keep to certain conditions, such as repaying the arrears in instalments, or
- give you time to sell your property to avoid repossession, or
- decide that you should be evicted.
If you have agreed to sell your property to Stop Repossession Hull the judge will grant you enough time to allow the sale to go through. We will provide you with a letter of intent from our solicitor which is used as evidence that the sale is agreed.
If the judge orders that you should have your house repossessed, the court will set a date for you to leave. If you have not left by that date, your lender must then apply for a bailiff’s warrant. The bailiffs will write to you when the eviction is to take place. If you have not left by this date, the bailiffs have the right to remove you from your home and change the locks on your house. If you sell to Stop Repossession Hull you will avoid dealing with the bailiffs and if you choose to rent your house back you will be able to remain in your home.
What does adjourning the house repossession case mean?
Adjourning the case occurs when the judge decides the case cannot be decided. The judge can adjourn the case for a fixed period of time or indefinitely. This may happen because:
- the judge needs more information from you or the claimant before making a decision;
- you need more time to raise a lump sum to pay off the arrears;
- you are selling your home to Stop Repossession Hull and need more time to complete the sale.
When the case is adjourned you will either be given a fixed date for the next hearing or the claimant (your lender) will need to reapply after a fixed period of time. If you have mortgage arrears you may have to pay off a fixed amount of the arrears each month as a condition of the adjournment. In the mean time you have the right to remain in your home without being evicted. If you do not keep to the conditions of the adjournment the judge is more likely to evict you when you return to court.
What does ‘striking out’ the case mean?
Striking out occurs when the judge decides there is no valid reason to evict you from your home. There are several reasons why a case may be struck out, including:
- the claimant has not followed the correct procedure for bringing the case to court;
- the claimant or their representative does not attend the hearing;
- the arrears are cleared.
If the judge strikes out the case you have the right to remain in your home and will not be evicted. You will have the same rights and responsibilities as before. If the claimant (your lender) still wants to evict you they must start the repossession process again.
What is the ‘outright possession order’?
An outright repossession order means that the repossession order has been granted and you do not have the right to remain in your home at the end of a fixed period. This means the judge has found in favour of the claimant or your lender. The fixed period is traditionally 28 days after the repossession order is granted. If you think you will need more time, you must ask the judge at the hearing. More time is only granted in certain circumstances, for example, if you are ill or have children.
Even though the repossession order has been granted you can still negotiate with your lenders to stop you being evicted and losing your home. Stop Repossession Hull could stop you being evicted from the home you have invested so much time and love into by buying your home and/or renting it back to you. You can also ask the judge to suspend the outright order if you come to an agreement with your lenders to repay your debts.
If you do not leave your house by the date outlined by the court, the claimant (your lender) can apply to the court for the bailiffs to evict you. You can not be physically removed from the house by anyone other than the bailiffs. Bailiffs have the powers to remove you and your family from your home, but, can not use force to do so.
If you have been given an eviction date by the court you can apply to the court to stop or delay the eviction if there is a strong reason to do so. This is known as a stay of execution. You can apply for this up until the day before you are evicted but, it is better to do this as soon as possible. You can get a stay of execution if you agree to sell your home to Stop Repossession Hull and clear your debts. Call us now to find out how we can help you.
What is a ‘suspended possession’ order?
A suspended possession is granted when the judge agrees that your lender should repossess your home but, it is not reasonable to do so immediately because of your circumstances. The judge will allow you to stay in your home as long as you keep to certain conditions. Usually the conditions are that you continue to make mortgage payments and also pay an agreed amount each month to pay off the arrears. However, do not agree to pay back more each month than you can afford because, if you default on your agreement, the judge will not be as sympathetic when you return to court. Once you have repaid your arrears you will simply need to pay your normal monthly mortgage or loan payments.
The conditions of the suspension will be outlined at the court hearing. If you do not keep to the agreement the claimant can apply to the court for the bailiffs to evict you. This may happen extremely quickly. You will receive a letter from the bailiffs giving you some advance warning of the eviction. There will not be another hearing unless you request a stay of execution to be granted by the court before the eviction.
If you feel you will be unable to keep to the conditions of the suspension contact your lender immediately, do not wait for the arrears to build up. If your circumstances have changed, for example, you have lost your job it may be possible to get the conditions of the order changed to make the payments more manageable. If you want to change the conditions of the order you will have to apply to the court and may have to pay a fee. If you are claiming benefits, you may be able to get help with these fees.
What is a time order?
If you have a secured loan or mortgage, the court may be able to reduce your payments by either:
- changing the interest rate on your loan, or
- lengthening the term of the loan
This is known as a timed order. If you would like a timed order, you must inform the judge at the hearing. A timed order can only be granted on certain types of loans, depending on when the loan was taken out and the amount.
What is a ‘money judgment’?
The claimant (your lender) can ask the court to register a money judgement against you. This allows your lender to recover all of the money you owe, including the mortgage and any arrears. A money judgement will damage your credit record and can make it extremely difficult to get any form of credit in the future, including a mortgage.
Can the order be changed?
In certain circumstances you can ask the court to cancel or suspend the order. This is only likely to be successful if the order should not have been made at the beginning. This may be because:
- you didn’t receive the court papers;
- you didn’t know you had a right to defend the case;
- you didn’t attend the court hearing;
- you didn’t reply to the court in time and you had a good reason for not replying. If you had replied, the court may have made a different order or no order at all;
- you can ask the court to change the terms of a suspended order if your circumstances have changed. For example, if you can not keep to the payments you agreed because you have lost your job or become ill. It is easier to do this if you have kept to the conditions of the suspended order and the claimant (your lender) agrees.
To cancel, suspend or change an order you must apply to the courts using a specific form. You may have to pay a fee when you make the application. If you are on a low income or benefits you may you may not be required to pay. The court will then set a date when your repossession hearing will be heard.
Will I have to pay court costs?
It is very likely you will have to pay court fees. If your lender has started the repossession process they will add any legal fees to the amount you owe, including mortgage and arrears. In some circumstances it is possible to stop the lender from doing this.
Can I stop the bailiffs?
Yes, you can stop the bailiffs but, only if you have a genuine reason to stop the eviction. Such reasons include:
- you are ill or have young children, and need more time to find somewhere else to live;
- your circumstances have changed (such as if you have a new job) and you are likely to be able to pay off what you owe if you are given more time. This is when agreeing a sale to Stop Repossession Hull can stop the eviction;
- there is a good reason why you haven’t done anything to stop the eviction earlier (such as if you have been away and were not aware of the situation);
- your lender or freeholder got the possession order by fraud or didn’t follow the correct procedure
In rare situations, your lender may allow you to stay in your home whilst they sell it. This is extremely unusual and generally only occurs if you agree to cooperate and the company does not need the property before the completion of the sale.
If the judge decides to stop or delay the eviction, you should contact the bailiff’s office at the court immediately. If the judge does not agree to stop or delay the repossession the eviction will go ahead.
What will happen to my possessions?
The bailiffs will not remove any of your possessions unless the judge has ordered them to do so. Usually, they will watch whilst you remove your possessions. If you do not remove your belongings they will be left locked inside the property. You will then need to make arrangements with your lender or freeholder to remove them. You normally have to remove everything within a short period of time, for example, two weeks. If you can not remove your belongings in this time your lender or freeholder will remove and dispose of them.
Can I access the property after eviction?
With the exception of collecting your belongings you will not be able to re-enter the property after you have been evicted. However, the court may rule that you are allowed to return if you can show that:
- the possession order was obtained through fraud
- the correct legal process wasn’t followed
It may be possible to gain access to your house if you can raise the money to pay back your arrears after the eviction date. To do this you would need to apply for an injunction which would stop the sale of your home whilst the arrangements where made. If contracts have already been exchanged with a buyer you will not be able to stop the sale from going ahead.
Contacting Stop Repossession Hull about your repossession
Stop Repossession Hull specialise in stopping house repossessions by buying your house. If you have sufficient equity and need to sell your property quickly we can help you, please contact us using the details on the Contact Us page.