If you’re being threatened with repossession – or eviction – you’ll need to know what you can do about it. Here we’ll look at what happens before and during a house repossession.
What to do before repossession
It can take several months before a repossession actually happens, so use the time wisely. Don’t forget to take advice from those who can help you and try to come to an arrangement with your lender if you can.
This article can help you with this: How To Stop A House Repossession
You could also consider the option of selling your house yourself.
What is the correct repossession procedure?
Repossession can’t just happen without warning. Your lender must have an order for repossession from a court. This gives you a minimum of 28 days notice.
During this 28 day period, there is still time to find a solution – or ask for more time to find one. Again, consider if selling your house could be the right choice for you.
Some people decide to leave their home before or once the order for repossession is made – which is known as voluntary surrender – while others opt to stay as long as possible. Shelter advises on what you need to think about if you are considering handing back the keys.
What happens during eviction and repossession?
A repossession order can’t be used to evict you, in itself. Your lender must ask the court for a warrant of possession – also known as a possession warrant – first. This gives your lender the right to send in the bailiffs – or enforcement officers or agents as they’re more correctly known – to evict you.
How long before I am evicted?
The bailiffs must give you a formal Notice of Eviction (known as form N54) which sets out their intention to evict you and states the date. The notice must be issued promptly once the warrant of possession is issued and must be posted or hand delivered to the eviction address.
The eviction date will normally be at least seven days later and could be longer. If you’re willing to leave it may be possible to agree on a date. Also, if you have special circumstances like illness, disability or very young children notify the bailiffs in advance and ask them to take this into account.
Bailiffs can visit you at any time, although they can only actually carry out the eviction between 6 am and 9 pm.
What can the bailiffs do?
Enforcement officers can evict you and any other occupants from your house. They are legally entitled to use a reasonable amount of force to enter your home but are expected to act reasonably.
The bailiffs will arrange for the locks to be changed and for the property to be secured. A representative from your lender may also visit to collect the keys.
The website for the UK Government explains what the powers of bailiffs are.
Can the police help in a repossession?
Bailiffs can call the police, either before or during the eviction, if they think there could be a breach of the peace. The police won’t and can’t actually carry out the eviction.
You can also call the police if you’re concerned. But they can’t stop repossession if the bailiffs have a warrant.
What happens to my personal property in a repossession?
Bailiffs are entitled to remove all your possessions from the property. They will sometimes give you a short period of time to remove your things yourself. If that’s not enough time they may allow you to come back to collect them at another time.
The bailiffs can’t take any of your property to cover your mortgage debt unless they have a court order to do so.
Help with finding emergency accommodation
Your local council is legally required to find you emergency accommodation if you’re homeless. But it is a good idea to check what help they are actually able and willing to offer well before you are evicted, so you have a safe place to live if you need.
This article from Shelter provides more information about what help councils can provide if you’re homeless.
If the decision has been made before your actual repossession date that selling your property is the route you wish to take then this can be one way to avoid the full repossession process.
The next step to this is to seek out the best way to sell your home among the multitude of options, based on the scenario, selling your property quickly is likely to be a priority, therefore direct property buyers is likely one route to consider rather than marketing with traditional estate agencies.
If you want to sell your house fast, we can help straight away. You can take a look at our fast house sale service delivered by a partner agency or fill in the form below. Through this service, you will be able to sell your property in 28 days to even as fast as 7 days.