For most homeowners who are having difficulty paying their mortgage the very thought of a repossession order dropping through their letterbox is something to dread. With good reason – a repossession order could be the first step in a process that could see your home be repossessed.
But – the whole repossession process is much less daunting if you know the facts. In this article, we will explain exactly what a repossession order is and how it works. We will also explain why receiving a repossession order does not actually mean you will be thrown out of your home or lose your property.
When are you likely to receive a repossession order?
You can’t just be given a repossession order. It can only happen at the end of a very long process – and there are lots of opportunities along the way to stop it or sort things out.
First, let’s assume you’ve been unable to make your mortgage repayments and you’ve fallen into arrears. Please see this article where we explain the arrears process: Mortgage Arrears | How Many Months Before a Repossession?
Next, let’s assume you haven’t been able to come to an arrangement to settle the arrears. And that your lender has said they’re going to start repossession proceedings. Here’s an article that explains: How To Stop A House Repossession
Your lender applying for a repossession order is the next step in the process:
What you need to know about a repossession order
First, it isn’t actually called a repossession order. It is more correctly called an order for possession.
Again, an order for possession can’t just be slapped on you. You can only be given one at the end of a formal process with lots of opportunities along the way to put things right.
Here’s how the process works:
- Your lender has to go to court – at what is known as a possession hearing – and ask the court to issue an order for possession and give their reasons for needing it.
- You’re entitled to go to court and give your reasons why one shouldn’t be issued – if you think it shouldn’t be.
- You’ll be given plenty of notice of the court hearing date. During this time you can take advice on the best thing to do or find somebody to help you in court.
These sites all provide very useful advice on the repossession process:
- Depending on your circumstances you might be able to get Legal Aid to help you with your case at court. You’ll find more information from the Gov.uk site here and find a local Legal Aid adviser here.
- On the day of the hearing, the court will listen to what both the lender and you have to say. Then they will decide whether or not to grant the order for possession.
Important: It’s essential to know that because the court grants your lender an order for possession it does not automatically mean you will lose your home. There is still time to sort things out. For example, you could still come to a repayment plan with your lender or perhaps ask them for time to sell your house yourself. They are to be taken very seriously.
Types of order for possession
There are different types of orders for possession. Each of these has totally different outcomes. Again, it’s important to know that receiving a repossession order does not automatically mean you will lose your home. You can, in some cases, be given a repossession order and still stay in your home.
If the court decides to grant an order you can even request them to grant the type of order that best suits you.
The different types of order are:
Outright possession order:
This type of order means that the court has decided you have to leave your home. It is granting the lender a legal right o own your home on the date given in the order. In law, this is usually 28 days after your court hearing, so you may 28 days notice to leave.
However, you can ask them to extend this up to 56 days. If you do not leave the property by the date on the order then the lender can ask the court to evict you.
Suspended possession order:
This kind of possession order is actually quite common. It means that you can stay in your home as long as you do certain things. For example, if you can agree on a repayment plan and start to pay off the arrears then, as long as you keep to this, you can stay in your home and your lender will not repossess.
You can also ask for a suspended possession order if you want to sell your home yourself. You can ask the court for a reasonable period of time to allow you to do this.
These are less usual but worth knowing about. The court can make a time order giving you more opportunities to put things right. Options open to the court include changing your monthly repayment or even ordering your mortgage interest rate to be reduced. Or perhaps increasing the length of your mortgage to give you more time to repay it.
Alternatives to a repossession order
It is very important to know that going to a possession hearing does not necessarily mean an order for possession will be issued. You can ask the court to adjourn the case until a future date if, for example, you need more time to prepare your case.
You can also ask them to dismiss or ‘throw out’ the case if you think your lender is wrong or if you’ve repaid your arrears since the date was set. You could even appeal against the court’s decision.
Because there are so many different personal situations and so many possible outcomes of a repossession hearing it’s very important to take proper advice on what’s best for you – see our useful contacts earlier in this article from citizens advice and other support networks.
What you need to know about warrants of possession
Many people think an order for possession is the same as a warrant of possession but they are totally different things.
The order for possession is the first part of that process, where you are requested that you leave your home by the stated date. It can’t be used to forcibly evict you in itself.
Many people decide to leave of their own accord by the deadline date. But, if you don’t, your lender can then ask the court to grant them a warrant of possession. It is the warrant of possession that can be used to send in the bailiffs and forcibly evict you.
It could take your lender several weeks to obtain a warrant of possession and send in the bailiffs. You can also ask the court not to issue the warrant if you have good reasons.
Selling your house yourself could be one way to avoid repossession
If the decision has been made 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.
If you want to sell your house fast, we can help straight away. You can take a look at our fast house sale service 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.
Find out how the quick sale method works here: