Mortgage repossession

If your lender takes you to court

You must tell the court if you want to defend the action and keep your home. You have 21 days from the date on the court letter to tell them. A solicitor or a money and debt adviser can help you communicate with the court.

If you do not tell the court, or do not go to your hearing, the court will usually decide that your lender can repossess your home.

If you’re worried about going to court, contact a Shelter Scotland adviser.

They can explain your rights and help you understand the process.

Before you go to court

Get legal representation

A solicitor who specialises in housing law can represent you in court and defend you. Find a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland.

You could get legal help for free or at a lower cost.

Get money and debt advice

Contact a money and debt adviser as soon as you can. They can negotiate with your lender and help you propose a repayment plan that you can afford.

Propose a repayment plan

Agreeing a repayment plan can help you to avoid court or strengthen your case.

You’ll need to tell your lender:

  • why you're in arrears

  • how you plan to pay back the arrears

  • what you've done to improve your finances, such as budgeting or applying for benefits

  • details of any money and debt advice you're getting

  • how long you think it'll take to repay the arrears

Going to court

Make sure you have a defence planned or an idea of what you’ll say. If you have a solicitor, they’ll help you with this.

Take copies of your financial statement, and proof of your income including payslips and benefit awards.

At your repossession hearing, you’ll have the chance to explain:

  • why you’ve built up arrears

  • what you’ve done to agree a repayment plan with your lender

  • why you’ve not kept to the repayment plan

  • why you may struggle to find other accommodation if your home is repossessed

Your lender will usually send their solicitor to represent them. They’ll say why the lender wants to repossess your home. They’ll give reasons why they think you will not keep to any repayment plan.

At the hearing, you can:

  • offer a new or updated repayment plan

  • ask for more time to pay

  • dispute your arrears, if you think the amount is wrong

Tell the court if you did not get the correct letters or if your lender did not follow the pre-action requirements. This could lead to the case being dismissed.

Check our guidance on:

Decisions the court can make

The case is dismissed

The case can be dismissed if:

  • you have cleared your arrears before the hearing

  • your lender did not send you the correct notices

  • your lender did not follow the pre-action requirements

If the case is dismissed, your lender will have to start the repossession process again.

The case is continued

This means the court is setting another date to look at your case again.

They’ll usually do this to see if you stick to a repayment plan.

They can continue the case if you or your lender need more time to provide information the court asks for. This could include providing copies of letters or getting proof that your lender followed pre-action requirements.

The repossession is granted

If a repossession order is granted, your lender has the right to repossess your home. They'll then sell the property to recover what you owe them.

If your lender wants to evict you, the repossession order must state that you have to move out. Your lender can then ask sheriff officers to send you a charge for removal. This is a letter that tells you the date and time that you must leave the property.

They can choose not to issue a charge for removal if you agree to a new repayment plan. You may have to offer a lump sum of money toward your arrears before they’ll agree to this. You can ask them not to evict you as part of any new repayment plan.

If you are worried about where you’ll stay after repossession, check our guidance on how the council must help you if you’re homeless.

If you miss your court hearing

In certain circumstances, a hearing can be recalled where you missed your court date and you did not submit any defence.

You’ll need legal advice to check if you can recall a hearing. A solicitor will help you apply to the court. Find a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland. You could get legal help for free or at a lower cost.

If the property has been repossessed and you have already moved out, you cannot recall a hearing.

Last updated: 17 March 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England