Continuing with our Quick Property Sale (a house quick sale) articles, this week we take a look at attending a repossession court hearing and what to expect on the day.
What happens at a Repossession Hearing on the day?
Hopefully you would have filled out the necessary county court documents previously sent to you? (please read our blog on ‘Preparation for a Repossession Hearing’). You will get at least three week’s notice of the court hearing date (the time/date will be written on the first page of the claim form) with these court documents. You must keep this day free for the hearing so you can attend, you must also notify anyone else who is affected or needs to accompany you to court.
Why you should go to a repossession court hearing?
Most mortgage possession hearings are usually held at the local county court and are conducted in private. At the hearing a judge will decide if your mortgage lender can repossess your property so it is important that you attend as this may give you more of a chance of keeping your home. This is when you or your advisor will be able to speak to the judge to explain your situation. Going to a county court is not the same as a criminal court and you cannot be sent to prison.
When you arrive at the county court
Arrive in plenty of time at the court (so you are relaxed and calm) before your court hearing appointment and it is usually best to dress smartly. Tip: if you attend late the court may already have made an order to repossess your property. Check-in to the front desk, or inform the court staff that you are there to attend the hearing and find out where your hearing is taking place. Be patient as you may have to wait as there will be other court cases being conducted throughout the day.
Assistance from a duty court adviser
Ask the court staff (or you could telephone them beforehand) when you arrive if there are any advisers on duty. This free service is usually called the ‘court duty scheme’ and the duty adviser or solicitor may help with any last minute guidance or advice.
A duty adviser can sometimes speak (provided they are not too busy) on your behalf in court or try to negotiate an arrangement with your mortgage lender’s representative. Always ensure that you take all relevant letters, paperwork and documents with you.
Who is allowed into the court hearing?
The judge hears your case and they will check everyone present is there for the correct hearing. If you have an adviser who is not a solicitor, they can speak on your behalf (if they are part of the court’s duty scheme). If they are not, then they must request permission from the judge (this also applies if it’s a friend or a family member and they must be over 18 years of age) is to speak on your behalf. As a rule, the general public are not permitted into the hearing.
How the court makes a decision
Your lender’s legal representative will explain what order the lender wants the court to make. This is the point when both parties and the judge will ask questions concerning the repossession. The judge makes a decision based on what the law stipulates and on evidence from you and your mortgage lender.
What decisions can the court make?
Once all of the facts and evidence have been provided the judge can then decide on one of the following actions:
a) Make an outright possession order – this means you are given a date to vacate your home.
b) Make a suspended possession order – this means you can stay in your property provided you keep to certain conditions agreed with the court.
c) Adjourn the case – this means a final decision is postponed to a future date.
d) Strike out the case – meaning the case is dismissed and you can stay in your home.
e) Make a time order – (this covers 2nd mortgages or secured loans only) meaning you can stay in your property as long as you keep to the conditions ordered.
The judge could also instruct a money judgment and an order about obtaining court costs from you. Do not be afraid, if at any time, you do not understand any part of the court hearing you can ask the judge to explain this to you. A copy of any court order that is made will be sent to you after the hearing.
If the judge decides you should lose your property, your mortgage lender can then request the court to send bailiffs to evict you. (There is also a Quick Property Sale article how to challenge bailiffs in this series of repossession guides).
We hope you have found these Quick Property Sale articles of help to you and hopefully they make the repossession route seem less daunting. Should you need to sell your home on a house quick sale basis please do get in touch with us. Although there are many other online ‘property for quick sale’ services (quick sales property) available we like to believe we offer a personal touch when it comes to delicate situations so do give us a call, even if it’s just for a quick chat.