Mortgage repossession

Overview of the repossession process

If you do not keep up with payments on your mortgage or secured loan, your home can be repossessed. This allows your lender to sell your home to recover what you owe them.

There’s a strict process your lender must follow before they can repossess your home.

You can negotiate with them at every stage and set up a repayment plan to pay what you owe.

Missed mortgage payment

If you miss a mortgage payment you’ll get a letter from your lender. They’ll ask you to pay what you owe or discuss how you'll pay it back.

To deal with your arrears you can:

  • get specialist money and debt advice

  • improve your finances

  • negotiate a repayment plan with your lender

Check our guidance on getting money and debt advice.

Rules your lender must follow

These are sometimes called pre-action requirements.

Your lender must:

  • give you clear information about what you owe and what arrears you have

  • take reasonable steps to agree a repayment plan with you

  • avoid taking court action if you are trying to stick to a repayment plan

  • give you information on managing your debts and how to get debt advice

They must also tell the council that they are trying to repossess your home. The council may then offer you support and advice.

If your lender fails to do any of these things, they may not be able to repossess your home.

Warning letters

If you do not respond to your lender's letters, or if you do not stick to your repayment plan, they can send you warning letters.

The first warning letter is called a notice of default. It will ask you to pay your arrears in full within 1 month.

Check our guidance on how to stop repossession of your home.

Getting a final warning letter

Before taking you to court, your lender must send you a letter warning you about potential court action. It’s called a calling up notice.

A calling up notice gives you 2 months to pay both your arrears and your mortgage or loan in full.

Check our guidance on repossession letters and what they mean.

Getting a court date

If a letter tells you a date that you should attend court, get legal advice as soon as you can. A solicitor can advise you on your rights and represent you in court. Find a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland.

Getting letters about going to court

Your lender must send you 2 letters telling you about court action. There are called an initial writ and a section 24 notice.

When you get these letters, you must tell the court if you want to defend the action. You have 21 days from the date on the letter to do this.

Your lender must get a repossession order from the court before they can make you move out. You can still take steps to deal with your mortgage arrears and try to keep your home.

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

If your home is repossessed

Once your lender gets a repossession order from the court, they can sell your home.

They may also get an order saying you have to move out. You’ll get a letter called a charge for removing. It will give a date that you have to move out by.

Check our guidance on:

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