House Repossession Process & What Happens After

Types of House Possession Orders
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The House Repossession Order Process & What Happens After: A Step-by-Step Guide

House repossession happens when an individual or institution has rightful ownership of a property and reclaims it from the party that has rightful possession of it. As one could imagine, this process is not a very pleasant experience and isn’t something that happens swiftly. It is a long process having several stages and there are various requirements that have to be met before it is all said-and-done. It can be a very stressful situation, to say the least, if you are undergoing house repossession and can affect you with a plethora of negative emotions. Moreover, your credit is bound to take a massive nosedive and will stay that way for quite some time.

As stated earlier, house repossession is not a fast process and typically involves five separate stages. In this article, we are going to cover these stages in great detail so you will have a better understanding of how the process works, as well as some steps you can take to prevent this from happening to you. Believe it or not, there’s plenty you can do to prevent or, at least, delay this from happening. There’s a great deal of information to cover so let’s get started.

Stage 1: Notification

The first stage is fairly straightforward. When a borrower or debtor falls behind on mortgage payments, the lender or creditor will send a letter notifying how much money is owed and will request the debtor to pay the arrears in full or within a specified time-frame.

If the letter is not replied to, the creditor will, undoubtedly, be less than thrilled and will send another letter. Typically, the second letter will notify the debtor that the creditor is planning to take legal action. This letter is commonly called a Notice of Intended Prosecution. This is usually followed by the creditor filing for a possession order with the local court.

Many people make the mistake of simply ignoring these notices and thereby, let a resolvable issue get out of hand. It is during this time that the situation can actually be controlled because creditors are typically more understanding and willing to work out some type of payment arrangements to bring a delinquent account back to good standing.

However, in those cases where the situation has already escalated, thankfully, there are some steps the creditors have to complete, by law, that will afford you some time to come up with a plan.

Stage 2: The Court Summons

If facing house repossession, the court summons will:

  • Inform you about how much is owed. This step has already been completed with the letters your creditor had sent.
  • Consider alternate payment arrangements you have requested.
  • Respond to the payment offers you have made.
  • Provide you with reasons for turning down your payment offer. They have 10 days to complete this part of the process.
  • Provide you with a reasonable time-frame to consider any proposals they may present to you.
  • A written warning of at least 15 days on their plans for starting any court actions.
  • Provide you with the hearing details, such as time, date and location.
  • Provide the council with information regarding the notification.

Once the application for possession has been submitted by the lender, the court will notify you, in writing, of basic details regarding the lender’s claim. You will be provided with the time and date of the hearing. Along with the notification, you will receive a reply form. It is extremely important that this form is filled out correctly and returned to the court. If you are trying to repay your debt by selling your house, it is possible that the courts may delay the hearing and allow you more time to resolve the issue.

Once the hearing date gets closer, you will receive an affidavit that will have details regarding the claim. This is a legal document that will contain information such as the outstanding balance, interest rates, payment details and other terms and conditions involved in the mortgage.

You can go to for further information and to download copies of these court forms.

Stage 3: The Court Hearing

The hearing itself is not a public event. The only people present at the hearing are the two parties and the judge. If facing repossession, the judge will first review all the information and evidence provided by your lender or your lender’s representatives and then give you a chance to plead your case. Once you do, the judge will take everything into consideration and will then afford you a chance to pay your arrears or suggest an alternative as to how the mortgage will be repaid. The courts consider taking someone’s home to be the absolute last resort. Therefore, you should stay calm and consider the options that are given to you.

Once the hearing is completed, the judge will decide on one of four possible conclusions: Strike It Out, Adjourn, a Suspended Repossession Order or a Possession Order.

Struck Out, Adjourned or Suspended Repossession Order

  • Strike It Out: If you’re facing house repossession, the best case scenario for you is when the judge rules to strike out the application for possession. This means that the judge has concluded that the lender has no case against you and orders that all court actions come to a stop. This will typically happen if you are able to repay the arrears before the date of the hearing or, in some cases, are able to prove that you have a buyer for the property and will be able to repay the mortgage soon.
  • Adjourn: If the judge decides to adjourn the case, he or she is simply extending it to a later date, typically around four weeks. This provides you with additional time to make arrangements to resolve the issue, such as sell your house. Having proof of an offer from a prospective buyer that you could present to the court would help to have your case adjourned.
  • Suspend Repossession Order: A Suspended Repossession Order is a ruling that presents you with the ability to keep the house but only under very specific terms. This is typically a ruling that you can expect to receive if you reach an agreement with your lender to repay the amount you owe in arrears, usually through instalments. However, this order will still let the lender take the house, just not immediately. Should you fail to meet the conditions of the agreement, you can be evicted without the lender needing further court hearings through a bailiffs warrant. Bailiffs warrant is a warrant of execution issued by the courts that enables a county court bailiff to take goods for sale from the debtor’s address. In other words, you will be evicted, will no longer have any rightful possession of the house, and the house will become the sole property of the lender.

Stage 4: Possession Order – Taking of the House

  • Possession Order: A judge issuing a Possession Order against you is about as bad as it can get. If a Possession Order is established, the judge will issue an eviction date, either 28 or 56 days later. If you are not off the property by the date set by the court, the lender can file for bailiffs warrant and you can be removed from the property.

If the judge determines that your house should be repossessed, or if you fail to adhere to the terms set forth under any of the other possible rulings, your house will officially belong to the lender. If you haven’t left by the time established by the court, the lender can file to have a bailiffs warrant issued and you will be removed from the property. Needless to say, this can be a stressful and emotionally draining time. However, even with the bailiffs warrant issued, it is not an immediate process.

If such legal actions have been taken by the lender to evict you, you will still be given at least 14 days notice before the actual eviction date. Additionally, the bailiffs have to give you advance notice of when they are coming, including the date and time. They will either mail you a form N54, Notice of Eviction, or will physically bring it to your home. The N54 is typically received two or three days prior to the eviction date.

When the bailiffs arrive, and if you are still there, they will ask you to leave. It is possible that they will give you a short amount of time to gather additional items to take with you, however, there are no laws requiring them to do so. Once you are out, the locks are usually changed and the power and gas supply to the house is shut off. A representative of the lender will also be there and will receive the keys for the new locks from the bailiffs. Police officials may also be present to help avoid any potential disturbances.

Stage 5: Selling of the House

After the house has been officially repossessed, the lender will sell the property for some, if not all, of the money they lost due to the foreclosure. Depending on how the courts ruled, you may still be liable to pay the lender. If the lender is not able to sell the property for the total amount of what you owed, including legal fees, the amount of the mortgage and arrears, you may have to pay the remainder. However, if the lender is able to sell the property for the full amount, you will become free of any debt.

Steps You Need to Take

If you are faced with this ordeal, do not simply sit back and hope for the best. There are actions that you can take to help make the process less stressful, or even prevent it from occurring altogether:

Borrow Money:

One of the best things to do to avoid repossession is to get a repossession loan. A repossession loan is expensive and can range between 1% and 5% per month, but in some cases, it is the best way out. If you are expecting money from somewhere but are short of time, go for a repossession loan. Also, if you have money stuck in an asset that you’re waiting to liquidate, a loan can buy you time. This way, you can pay off your lender, partly or completely, stopping your repossession immediately. Once that is done, you can pay off the repossession loan lending company (an expert like TIC Finance) in a few months when you have the money.

Sell the Property, Seek Legal Advice or Voluntarily Surrender the House

  • Borrow Money: While borrowing money may seem like the last thing to consider, it could be exactly what you need to keep your home, clear your mortgage payments and prevent a great deal of stress. There are plenty of reputable lenders, such as TIC Finance, that specialise in helping people in these types of situations and to help stop repossession.
  • Sell the Property: Even though you may be faced with the situation of a lender trying to take your home, that does not mean that you cannot sell the property and sort out your debt. Depending on how much you still owe, selling the house for its current value could provide you with enough funds to pay off the mortgage and still have enough remaining to start over. There are various buyers out there who will buy your house quickly, just under the market value. If you’re not getting a great deal, maybe borrow money for now and sell the house a little later at its right market value. The options are endless.
  • Seek Legal Advice: If you feel that you are being treated unfairly, or that the lender is in violation of the terms and conditions of the mortgage, you need to find expert legal advice to ensure that you are protected and well informed. Try contacting Shelter or check a list of organisations that can help on the website.
  • Voluntarily Surrender the House: While it will still negatively impact your credit history, a voluntary house repossession will ensure a smoother passage as compared to a straightforward house repossession. Additionally, lenders tend to be more accommodating when the process is voluntary, since you save them a great deal of legal hassle and money. We wouldn’t recommend it, but it might be suitable in some cases.

Regardless of your plan of action, the important thing to remember is that you can’t just hope for the best, you need to get up and act. There are steps you can take to help make the house repossession process a little less stressful and there are organisations out there that can help you.