How Many Months Mortgage Arrears Before Repossession?
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What Happens Next?
If and when a lender decides to initiate action, a protocol for mortgage arrears applies. Lenders have to follow an approved procedure and keep the mortgagor i.e. the borrower(s) fully informed. Additionally, the bank, building society or mortgage house must provide an opportunity to put the situation right before any repossession action starts.
Nowadays, lenders do not knock on the door at the outset. Typically, a sequence of standard letters warns of the situation and the possibility of action. In accordance with the accepted standards, borrowers have a fortnight to respond to such communications. Eventually, however, if the arrears remain uncleared, the lender will likely warn that they intend to apply to the relevant county court for a possession order.
For some people who run into spells of financial difficulty, even after adjusting the household budget, it is simply not possible to meet payments and clear the arrears. In such cases, one could approach the lender first. Being proactive and making contact in this way tends to create a favourable impression; lenders probably perceive such borrowers as more responsible and committed than those who ignore the signs of difficulty. All the same, before going to the office for an appointment, it is necessary to have a realistic plan.
You might wish to consult the gov.uk site. Help is available from the legal aid scheme and Civil Legal Advice for those who are eligible, or freely from:
- Citizens Advice.
- National Debtline.
- Your local council.
If possible, offer the lender a part-payment and suggest an affordable level of regular repayments. Notably, they must allow time to claim government or mortgage interest support and provide an option to reschedule the payments under the terms of the protocol.
Never Too Late to Make a Payment
Notably, it could still take months for the case to reach court and a possession hearing. Significantly, it is never too late to make a payment or reach a possible agreement with the mortgage provider. Such initiatives could delay the process, move it back a step or two – or even halt it completely.
You Could Consider Selling the Property
Finally, depending on your housing needs, you could consider selling the property. If circumstances permit, even if it seems unpalatable initially, this option could be attractive in the long term. Experience has shown that houses sold by owner-occupiers tend to realise higher selling prices than repossessed properties when lenders take charge of the process.
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