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What happens when my home is being repossessed?

Lenders must follow the correct repossession process before they can repossess your home. It may be possible to stop the repossession process at any stage so get advice as soon as possible.

Home repossession process

If you fail to keep up with the repayments on your mortgage or a secured loan, your lender can take legal action against you to repossess and sell your home to recover the money you owe them. Even if you keep up to date with your mortgage, you could lose your home if you fall behind with payments to your secured loan. However, your lender can't just throw you out - they have to follow the correct procedures, including pre-action requirements, and get a court order stating that you have to leave the property.

If you are having difficulty paying your mortgage there are options open to you to help you avoid repossession - read the section on mortgage arrears to find out more.

I have missed a mortgage/loan payment

If you have missed a mortgage or loan payment, you will probably receive a letter from your lender. It is likely that the letter will ask you to either bring the payments up to date or to contact your lender to discuss any difficulties that you might be having meeting your repayments.

At this stage you should contact your lender to discuss your situation and talk about what your options might be, for example, coming to a repayment arrangement or re-arranging your mortgage to make it possible for you to clear your arrears and keep on top of future payments. An adviser can help you put together a payment plan to clear your arrears. You might be able to:

Your mortgage lender must treat your situation sympathetically and positively, and listen to any suggestions you have. 

I have received a second letter from my mortgage lender

If you have already had one letter from your lender, which you have not responded to, it is likely that you will receive a second letter. This could come from your lender or from their solicitor. This letter is likely to ask you to bring your payments up to date within seven days or your lender will commence repossession proceedings.

You should contact your lender or your lender's solicitor if the letter came from them. Explain your situation and propose an arrangement to repay the arrears. Again, an adviser can help you with this.

Notices from your mortgage lender

If you have received two letters from your lender and have not contacted them or reached a satisfactory arrangement with them, your lender may do one of the following:

Where your lender is seeking to repossess your home they must serve you with a calling-up notice. 

Notice of default has expired

When a notice of default expires and you have not come to a repayment arrangement to clear your arrears or made good any default under the mortgage agreement, then your lender can serve you with a calling-up notice asking you to pay the full amount owed under the mortgage agreement and apply to the sheriff court under section 24 to repossess your home.

Calling-up notice has expired

If you have been served with a calling-up notice and this has expired your lender can take you to court to repossess your home once they have complied with the pre-action requirements.

Pre-action requirements

Before a lender can apply to the sheriff court they have to complete pre-action requirements. This means that they must:

  • give you clear information about the terms of your lending agreement; such as the amount that you owe including any arrears 
  • take reasonable steps to avoid repossession by agreeing with you arrangements for future payments under the lending agreement
  • not take you to court where you are taking reasonable steps to stick to the lending agreement
  • give you information on how to get advice on managing your debts and persuade you to contact your local authority.

Your lender can only take you to court to repossess your home if they have completed all of these pre-action requirements.

Going to court

If your lender is going to court to repossess your home you will be sent:

  • a notice your lender has applied under section 24 for their right to sell the property, and
  • an initial writ - a notice telling you that the lender has made the application to the court.

Even at this stage, you can keep trying to negotiate a repayment arrangement. If possible, continue to make payments towards the arrears, as this will be taken into account if you have to go to court.

If you have to go to court, you will need help from a solicitor. You may be entitled to legal aid if you have a low income or are receiving welfare benefits. An approved lay representative may be able to help you if you do not qualify for legal aid.

The court will make a decision about the repossession to say if you should be allowed to stay in the property or not.

Ejection order

Your lender cannot sell the property with you in it and will probably also ask the court for a court order stating that you must leave. This is called an ejection order or warrant of ejection.

If the court grants this court order you will be sent a letter telling you that you have to move out before a certain date. If you don't move out before the date you are given, sheriff officers can remove you from the property and change the locks so that you cannot return.

Minute of recall

If you did not attend or you were not represented at court when your lender was granted an ejection order, then you can apply for a minute of recall. This brings your case back to the sheriff court to be heard again.

Arrears on secured loans and second mortgages

If you fall behind with payments so you have arrears on a secured loan or second mortgage your lender can take action to repossess your property. If your loan is regulated by the Consumer Credit Act, you will be sent a default notice telling you that you are behind with your payments, and you may be able to apply to the court for a time order to give you an opportunity to pay back your loan. If your loan is not covered by the Consumer Credit Act, your lender must follow the standard repossession procedure set out on this page.

Sale of the property

Once the property is sold, the proceeds will be divided up:

  • your lender will take the sum of money owed, including legal costs and the cost of selling the property
  • any other loans secured on the property will be paid off.

If there is any money left, this is rightfully yours. You should be told in writing how the money has been divided up. 

Where can I get help?

If your home is threatened with repossession, talk to an adviser immediately:

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
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The important points

  • If you fail to keep up with the repayments on your mortgage or a secured loan, your lender can take legal action against you to repossess and sell your home to recover the money you owe them.
  • If you have missed a payment, you will probably receive a letter from your lender. which will ask you to bring the payments up to date.
  • Your lender may then serve you with a calling-up and make an application to court to reposes your home.
  • Before a lender can apply to the sheriff court they have to complete the pre-action requirements.

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

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