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Finding a home after repossession

Finding a new home after repossession doesn't have to be fraught. This page outlines what you need to know and what to be aware of when looking for a new home.

Will repossession affect my credit rating?

People with a history of debt problems are likely to have low credit ratings. This means you may find it difficult to get a tenancy or mortgage. Landlords and lenders usually check your credit history with credit reference agencies such as Experian, Equifax and Callcredit before they will give you a tenancy agreement or lend you money to buy a new home.

You can ask the credit reference agencies to send you a copy of the information they hold on you. You normally have to pay a small fee for this, but may not have to if a specialist adviser does this for you. The Experian, Equifax and Callcredit websites tell you how to access your credit records and how you can change any information that isn't correct.

You can find out more about credit ratings at the National Debtline website.

Can I buy another property?

Buying another property may be difficult, as many lenders will not give mortgages to people who have lost their homes because of payment problems. If you still have an outstanding debt to your previous lender, you will have even more problems getting another mortgage.

Most mortgage lenders will check the 'possessions register' operated by the Council of Mortgage Lenders, which gives information about repossessions by any of its members during the last six years, so you will have to tell any lender that you apply to that your last home was repossessed. It may be worth applying to a few different lenders, but you will have to tell them if your previous application was refused. A specialist mortgage broker (such as an independent financial adviser) may be more likely to find a lender who is willing to give you a mortgage. However, in many cases you will have to provide a larger deposit, and may be charged higher interest rates.

Making a homeless application

If you can't find permanent accommodation you can make a homeless application to the council. You will be provided with temporary accommodation while they make inquiries into your situation and decide if you will be eligible for permanent accommodation as a homeless person. You might find our homelessness application flowchart helpful.

To do this, the council will look at how you became homeless. If you deliberately didn't pay your mortgage, and could have afforded to, the council may decide that you became homeless intentionally. This might prevent you from being eligible for an offer of a permanent home. The council should not decide that you became homeless intentionally if the reasons for losing your home were beyond your control, for example you lost your job or fell ill.

Getting housing from the council

Even if you are not entitled to an offer of permanent accommodation as a homeless person, you may be able to get an offer of a permanent home if you put your name down on the council's housing waiting list. You should ask to be put on the waiting list at the same time as you make a homeless application. You should also ask the council if there is a common housing register in your area - this is a waiting list for homes from the council and also housing associations in the area. Putting your name down on a common housing register saves you having to apply to different housing associations separately.

Be aware that council housing waiting lists can be very long and your chances of getting a home will depend on your circumstances and the availability of accommodation in your area. In some council areas, you may not be able to get a home at all. Ask to see your council's housing allocation policy which should help you understand your chances of getting housing with them.

Renting from a housing association

Housing associations are not-for-profit organisations that rent houses and flats in city centres, housing estates and rural areas. They aim to provide good, low cost accommodation for people who really need it.

To apply for a home with a housing association, you will probably have to fill in an application form and then go on a waiting list, unless there is a common housing register for your area. Waiting lists can be very long and your chances of getting a home will depend on your circumstances and how much accommodation is available.

You can find out more about housing associations here.

Renting from a private landlord

The standard and cost of privately rented accommodation varies widely. You may find private rented accommodation through your local paper, letting agents and on the web. Some private landlords run credit checks on prospective tenants. If your home was repossessed because of mortgage arrears, it may be more difficult to find a landlord who is willing to rent to you.

Paying rent, deposit and other housing costs

Rents can be expensive. There is no legal limit to how much landlords can charge to begin with, but there are rules about how often they can increase the rent. You may have to pay a deposit and rent in advance. If you cannot afford a deposit, you may be able to get help from a rent deposit scheme.

If you have a low income or are receiving welfare benefits, you may be able to get housing benefit (if you are renting from a council or housing association) or local housing allowance (if you are renting from a private landlord) to help you pay your rent. Unfortunately some private landlords will not accept new tenants who will be getting local housing allowance.

If you are receiving income support or jobseeker's allowance, you may be able to get a budgeting loan to help you pay your rent in advance.

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The important points

  • Repossession means you are likely to have a low credit rating. You can ask the credit reference agencies to send you a copy of any information they have about you.
  • Buying a property in the future might be more difficult as less lenders might be willing to give you a mortgage and they might ask for a larger deposit and ask you to pay a higher rate of interest.
  • Some of your other housing options include renting (from the council, a housing association or co-operative, or a private landlord) or making a homeless application with your council.

If you're still looking for help, try searching, or find out how to contact us