Times are hard, with the cost of living crisis in full swing and monthly expenditure increasing significantly. This is putting many households under massive financial strain which, in an ever-increasing number of cases is leading to difficulty paying rent or mortgage payments. According to Government statistics there were 3,476 mortgage based repossession claims from April 2022 to June 2022 which was a 39% increase. Repossession warrants (essentially granted repossessions which have not yet been actioned) rose from 525 to 2,419, an increase of 361% and actual repossessions rose from 45 to 770 which was an increase of 1,611%. It isn’t just homeowners struggling, though and landlord repossessions rose from 1,582 to 4,900 in the same period which is an increase of 210%. Given these alarming statistics, what should you do if your property is under threat of repossession?
The first thing to do, whether renting or buying a property, is to talk to your landlord or mortgage lender the moment you feel you might be struggling financially. Both landlords and mortgage lenders will want to help you as much as they can. Try to negotiate a reduced payment plan, a mortgage switch to a lower interest rate or even an extension of the term to reduce payments. It makes more sense to pay less but actually pay something rather than miss payments and risk immediate court action. Of course, neither a lender nor a landlord is legally bound to accept your offer of reduced payments, but they will need a very good reason not to. A reduced payment plan might reflect badly on your credit score for a period of time, but this is better than losing your home entirely. Communication at an early stage is key to avoid any action being taken.
If you are struggling with your mortgage or rent payments then it might be prudent to downsize for a period. Clearly you will need to communicate with your lender or landlord about your plans but selling your home and buying or renting a cheaper property or moving to cheaper rental property could be an option to save you being evicted or having your home re-possessed.
Both rental evictions and home repossessions need to go to court to be ordered and as such will meander into a world of complex legalities. Solicitors are expensive so it would be beneficial to seek help from your local Citizens Advice who will be able to help you, by offering legal advice or even debt management advice to help you repay any default payments. If the repossession is already happening then contact the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme (HPCDS). This scheme, funded by the Legal Aid agency provides free legal advice to anyone in danger of eviction or having their property repossessed.
Check for Support
There is every chance that you have home insurance or even income protection insurance. If you do, check your policy to see what help your insurance cover provides to help keep on top of your rent or mortgage. Also check if you are eligible for Government support such as the Support for Mortgage Interest scheme, which is a scheme for some people on certain benefits to help them pay the interest on mortgages up to £200,000. This is a loan, however, and will need paying back when you finally sell your home.
Go to all Court hearings
Avoiding the situation and ignoring it will not help. If the process does get to court make sure you attend every hearing. A judge is much more likely to give you time to sort your financial issues if you make the effort to go to the hearings and present your case in person.
Being at risk of repossession or eviction can be a very stressful situation to be in but it is never guaranteed that you will lose your home. Communication is key and the earlier you communicate any financial problems that you have, the more likely it is that you will be able to work out a mutually agreeable payment plan. Taking advice is also key and the sooner you contact an organisation like Citizens Advice the better.