Don't ignore your mortgage problem
If your income isn't stretching far enough and you're worried that you might miss a mortgage payment, don’t wait for your lender to contact you. Let your lender know what’s happening.
A good lender will want to know if you’re having problems, so that you can work together towards a resolution before the situation gets any worse. As a result of the Pre-Action Protocol, much more emphasis is placed upon lenders to reach agreements with homeowners in arrears prior to taking things to court.
If you are in arrears with your mortgage, you will get letters about the arrears from your lender, your lender's solicitor or from the court.
Do not ignore letters about your arrears from your lender. The letters will not stop coming. The sooner you address the issue, the more options you may have.
If you get a letter or a phone call from your lender, reply. Take time to really work out your finances. This will help you understand your arrears and see if you can suggest a repayment plan to your lender.
Your lender will usually send you a letter reminding you that you have missed one or two payments. This letter will normally ask you to:
- confirm how you are going to catch up on your missed payments;
- contact your lender to discuss your situation.
Your lender will probably write to you again if:
- your proposals aren't satisfactory;
- your arrears increase.
The second letter usually says that solicitors will get involved if you don't:
- clear your arrears within seven days;
- contact your lender to discuss the situation within seven days.
It is better to negotiate with your lender before solicitors are involved. If you’re not sure how to begin this, you may want to read key issues when negotiating with your lender.
The solicitor will usually send you a letter giving you seven days to pay off all your arrears or make a proposal for doing so. This letter is sometimes referred to as ‘Notice to Quit’. While it may say that you have 7 days to repay or leave your house, it is only the first stage in the legal process of taking possession of your home.
If you have been sent out ‘Notice to Quit’, your lender’s solicitor can begin court action without any further warning if they are not satisfied with your response.
You may feel overwhelmed by the stern language in the legal letters, but do not give up. Try to negotiate at every step of the way and make sure you seek advice from independent advice agencies if you’re uncomfortable doing it on your own.
The court is more likely to be sympathetic to your situation if you've made a real effort to sort things out before legal action begins, even if you weren’t able to come to an agreement with the lender.
Court letters are another type of correspondence that you might receive if you're in arrears. Don't ignore these– there is still time to act and try to save your home, even if the lender begins court proceedings against you.
It’s not always easy to distinguish a court letter from a solicitor's letter. It is daunting trying to understand the contents. If you're unsure about what your letter means, call Housing Rights Service or another independent advice agency.
If you received a letter asking you to attend a court hearing, you may want to skip the new few stages and read more about your options when facing court action.
Even if you get a letter asking you to attend a court hearing, it's still not too late to save your home. You can stop repossession at any stage of the process.
Download the Mortgage Debt Advice Service Tips & Contact leaflet with information on how to deal with your mortgage arrears.