Mortgage repossession

Repossession letters and what they mean

If you miss a payment on your mortgage or secured loan, you’ll get a letter from your lender. They’ll ask you to pay what you owe, or discuss with them how you’ll deal with your arrears.

Get money and debt advice as soon as possible. An adviser can negotiate on your behalf with your mortgage lender. They can help you propose a repayment plan. Your lender must work with you to set up a repayment plan.

If you need extra time to get money and debt advice, tell your lender. Explain what you’re doing to deal with your arrears.

If you do not respond to a letter from your lender

Your lender can send you a reminder letter. This can come from the lender, or their solicitor.

It will usually give you 7 days to pay the arrears.

Getting a notice of default

If you do not respond to any letters your lender sends you, they can send you a notice of default.

This is a legal document that tells you that:

  • you have missed payments on your mortgage or loan

  • you have 1 month from the date they give to pay your arrears

A copy of the notice should be sent to any other adults living in your home.

If you do not clear the arrears within 1 month, or negotiate a repayment plan, your lender may try to take you to court. Before they can apply to court, they must send you a calling up notice.

If the notice of default is wrong

You can object at the sheriff court. You have 14 days from the date on the letter to appeal.

You’ll need a solicitor to help you. Find a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland. You could get legal help for free or at a lower cost.

Getting a calling up notice

This is a legal document that tells you:

  • the amount of arrears you have when the notice is sent to you

  • the outstanding balance on your mortgage or loan

  • that you have 2 months to pay both

A copy of the notice should also be sent to any other adults living in your home.

If you do not pay the full amount within 2 months, or negotiate a repayment plan, your lender can take you to court.

What to do if you get a notice of default or a calling up notice

Get money and debt advice as soon as possible. An adviser will help you understand your options. This can include:

  • paying your arrears in full

  • negotiating a repayment plan

  • applying for help through a government scheme

You can negotiate a repayment plan at any stage in the repossession process.

Follow our guidance on how to stop your home being repossessed.

Getting court letters

You will be sent 2 letters telling you about court action. These are called an initial writ and a section 24 notice.

What an initial writ says

  • which sheriff court you’ll go to

  • the name of your lender

  • the reasons they are taking you to court

  • how much you owe

What a section 24 notice says

  • that it’s a notice of proceedings - this means you’re being taken to court

  • you should get legal advice or representation

  • you have the right to a court hearing

  • you can voluntarily surrender your home to avoid going to court

Voluntary surrender is risky as you may still end up owing money after your home is sold. Always get money and debt advice before deciding to hand in your keys.

If you get an initial writ and section 24 notice

You must tell the court if you want to defend the action and try to keep your home. You have 21 days from the date on the letter to do this.

You will need help from a solicitor to tell the court and defend the action. Find a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland. You could get legal help for free or at a lower cost.

Check our guidance on what happens if your lender takes you to court.

If you get letters about a secured loan

A secured loan or second mortgage is any loan that you have secured against your home. This means the person lending you the money can sell your home if you cannot pay back what you owe.

The first letter you’ll get is a notice of sums in arrears. This says what you owe and how long you have to pay it.

If you do not pay, or do not agree to a repayment plan, you can then be sent a default notice. This tells you what you must do to avoid repossession action.

If you do not stick to the terms of the default notice, your lender can take action to repossess your home. They will then be able to send you:

  • a notice of default

  • a calling up notice

  • a section 24 notice and initial writ

Getting time to pay a secured loan or second mortgage

In some cases, you can apply to the sheriff court for more time to pay if you need it. You’ll need to get help from a solicitor or a money and debt adviser to apply for time to pay.

Your loan must be covered by the Consumer Credit Act so you can do this.

The Consumer Credit Act covers most loans taken out after April 2008. It does not cover loans to buy a house. Check the terms and conditions of your loan agreement to make sure it’s covered or speak to a money and debt adviser.

Last updated: 17 March 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

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