You can be allowed to stay in your home after a repossession hearing. This may be because there wasn't a good enough reason to repossess the home or because the Master believed you should be allowed to stay to give you time to put the situation right.
Your case could be adjourned if
- the Master needed more information to make a decision
- you needed time to raise a lump sum to pay off all or some of your arrears
- you were selling your home and needed time to complete the sale.
If you have mortgage arrears, you may have to pay a certain amount on top of your mortgage installment each month as a condition of the case being adjourned. It is very important to stick to these conditions. If you don't, the Master is more likely to make a possession order when your case goes back to court. The Master should explain the conditions, and you should get written confirmation in the post when a copy of the order is posted to you. If it isn't clear, get advice.
Your case may have been adjourned indefinitely, also known as adjourned generally. This may happen if your arrears fall below a certain level.
Your case may also be adjourned for a fixed period of time. If your case is adjourned you have the right to stay in your home until a final decision is made or you pay off the money you owe. You may have been given a date for another hearing when the case was adjourned, or your lender may have to apply for a new hearing after a certain amount of time or if your circumstances change.
The court made a suspended possession order
If the Master made a suspended possession order, you can stay in your home as long as you keep to certain conditions. The conditions should be explained in the order, but if it isn't clear, contact a local advice agency. In many cases, it will say that you have to pay a certain amount off your arrears each month and keep up with your ongoing mortgage payments. When you have paid off the arrears, you simply need to continue to pay your normal monthly payments when they are due.
If you don't keep to the conditions of a suspended possession order, you can lose your home. If you miss even one payment or you don't pay the full amount, your lender is entitled to reapply to the court to repossess your home. If you think you are likely to have problems sticking to the conditions of a suspended possession order, you should contact your lender or a local advice agency immediately. Don't put off dealing with the situation, as your lender may be able to repossess your home if you don't come to an agreement.
Even if the situation seems hopeless, an adviser may be able to help you change the conditions of the order to make it more manageable. If you want to change the conditions of an order, you will need to apply to the court and may have to pay a fee. Check with the NI Courts Service for the exact amount of this fee.
Avoiding payment problems in future
If you are worried that you can't afford your mortgage, you should get advice to stop your arrears from increasing. Don't ignore letters or phone calls from your lender. If you don't respond, your lender is much more likely to take you to court.