Archive Website of the UK government

Please note that this website has a UK government accesskeys system.

Archive brought to you by Cross Stitch UK

Main menu

Wednesday, 3 October 2023

What to do if your mortgage lender takes you to court

Find out how to know that your mortgage lender is taking you to court, and how repossession of your home can be postponed. Also find out about preparing to go to court, and what happens on the day.

Falling behind with mortgage payments

Your mortgage lender may take you to court if you do not keep an agreement to pay off your mortgage arrears. Before your lender begins court action, they will send you a letter called a ‘notice of default’ saying you are behind with your payments.

Make sure you read and respond to this letter. You may be able to reach an agreement with your lender and prevent court action.

Your lender takes court action

If you don’t reach an agreement, your lender may ask the court to evict you. This is called making a ‘claim for possession’ and you’ll receive paperwork from the court. There is always a court hearing for court cases about mortgage arrears that could end in eviction.

Keep talking to your lender

Keep talking to your lender even though they have started court action. You may still be able to come to an agreement. Make sure you get any agreement in writing and continue preparing for the hearing. Only change your plans if the court sends you a letter saying the hearing has been cancelled or postponed.

See an independent adviser

An independent adviser can help you speak to your lender and complete the court paperwork. They will explore the options available to keep your home, like support from benefits or a government-backed scheme, like the Mortgage Rescue scheme. If you find a solution, you’ll still need to attend court to inform the judge.

See ‘Mortgage advice – who to see and what to take’ for a list of advisers and their contact details.

What the court will send you

The paperwork from the court will include:

  • copies of the claim for possession forms, completed by your lender
  • a court hearing date
  • a blank defence form and guidance on how to fill it out
  • the court’s contact details
  • information about organisations offering free advice on repossessions

You’ll be called the ‘defendant’ or ‘mortgagor’ and the mortgage lender will be described as the ‘claimant’ or ‘mortgagee’ in the paperwork.

Filling in the defence form

The defence form has questions about things like your:

  • income
  • other debts
  • spending on electricity, food and transport

A money adviser can help you fill in this form.

Return the completed form to the court within 14 days. The information you give could affect the court’s decision at the hearing.

When repossession may be postponed

There are certain situations where repossession action may be postponed.

Making a claim on your mortgage protection payment policy

If you have a mortgage payment protection policy, you could postpone repossession by making a claim. This type of insurance policy covers your mortgage repayments, or a percentage of them, if you become ill or lose your job.

To avoid repossession, your lender must agree that you’ll be able to meet your monthly repayments, including any amount that isn’t covered by the policy.

Taking steps to sell your home

If you can show that you are trying to sell your home, your lender may agree to delay repossession. You’ll need to keep your lender up to date on the progress of the sale. If your lender doesn’t agree to you selling your home, they should tell you at least five working days before starting any action.

Making a complaint about your lender

If you feel your lender has treated you unfairly, you can refer your complaint about unfair treatment to the Financial Ombudsman Service. If the court hasn’t yet granted the lender permission to repossess, the ombudsman may ask the lender to either:

  • delay court action temporarily
  • stop court action

During this time the ombudsman will investigate your complaint.

In most cases, the Ombudsman Service won’t consider a complaint about a lender’s decision to repossess a property where a court has already granted permission for repossession.

Going to the court hearing

If your lender doesn’t postpone taking you to court, you must prepare for the hearing.

It’s vital you go to the hearing. This allows you to tell the judge why you have had difficulties paying your mortgage and how you could repay arrears in future.

If you don’t go, it’s very likely the judge will decide that you lose the right to keep your home.

Preparing for the court hearing

See ‘Preparing for the hearing’ to find out what you should do before going to court.

What happens on the day of the court hearing

Follow the link below to find out what the hearing will be like and the decisions the judge could make.

After the court hearing

After the hearing, the court will send you a copy of the judge’s decision. Even at this stage, you may still get help to keep your home. Follow the link below to find out what happens next and how you might be able to appeal.

Additional links

Simpler, Clearer, Faster

Try GOV.UK now

From 17 October, GOV.UK will be the best place to find government services and information

Access keys