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What happens at the repossession hearing

You may have to go to court if your mortgage lender is applying to the court for the right to repossess and sell your property or if you want to defend the repossession action. This page has information about what happens if you have to go to court.

If your mortgage lender is applying to the court for the right to repossess and sell your property, you should have received a section 24 notice and an initial writ.

My lender is applying for the right to repossess and sell my property

If your lender is taking you to court, you may have the following options:

Ask for more time

If you think that you can clear all of your mortgage arrears in a short amount of time, you can ask for the court to give you time to do this. This is called asking for the case to be continued. If your case is continued, another date will be set for your case to call back at court. If you have cleared all the arrears, no further action will be taken, but if you have not kept to the agreement, the sheriff will then decide whether your lender should be allowed to repossess the property.

Disagree with your lender

If you believe that you are not in arrears with your mortgage or your lender is mistaken about the level of your mortgage arrears, you can tell the sheriff. The case will probably be continued to a later date to give your lender time to produce a detailed statement of your mortgage account.

Will I need a solicitor?

If you want to ask for more time or disagree with your lender, you can represent yourself, get help and support from an approved lay representative (see what might be available in your area) or be represented by a solicitor. If you're worried about paying for legal representation, check our legal representation section, where you can find out about representing yourself, in-court advice service and law centres (law centres are special firm of solicitors that are not-for-profit organisations).

Preparing to go to court

If you are going to court, it is a good idea to work out what you want to say beforehand. It's helpful to take some notes to refer to in the courtroom. If you're not sure what to say, ask your solicitor or an adviser to help you prepare.

Will I have to speak?

You may be asked to state:

  • why you got into difficulties with your mortgage (for example, because you have had health problems or have been made redundant)
  • if you have done anything to come to an arrangement with your lender
  • why you haven't stuck to an arrangement if you have already made one
  • how you hope to pay off your arrears and get your mortgage back on track
  • if you have made efforts to find somewhere else for you (and your family) to live
  • how long it might take you to find alternative accommodation.

What will the lender say?

Your lender will probably send a solicitor to the court. They should tell the court:

  • how much your arrears are
  • how long you have been in arrears
  • their view of how you came to be in arrears
  • about any effort they have made to contact you and come to an arrangement to clear the arrears
  • if you have kept to any arrangements that you made to clear the arrears.

How does the sheriff come to a decision?

The sheriff will listen to what you, your approved lay representative or solicitor and your lender's solicitor have to say. When the sheriff is reaching a decision they will take into account:

  • reasons for the arrears.
  • your ability to clear the mortgage arrears in a reasonable amount of time.
  • your ability to meet your continuing mortgage repayments.
  • what your lender has done to help you deal with your debt.
  • what other housing options are open to you.

Find out more about the decisions the sheriff can make.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
Get advice if you're England

The important points

  • If your lender wants to take you to court to repossess your home, they should already have sent you an initial writ and section 24 notice.
  • You will need to be represented, by yourself, a solicitor, or a lay representative.
  • You will have to state why you got into difficulties with your mortgage.
  • You can ask for more time or disagree about the level of arrears, and either might result in the case being 'continued' so you go back to court at a later date.

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

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