If a court has decided that you have to leave your home it will issue a possession order. If you don't leave the property when you receive this order your lender will have to ask the Enforcement of Judgements Office to enforce the decision. You'll have to pay the fees for this part of the legal process. These will probably be added to the balance owed on your mortgage.
While we don't have bailiffs in Northern Ireland, officers of the Enforcement of Judgement Office (EJO) carry out this function. EJO staff are the only people who can phyically remove you or your possessions from the property. They must remove all your possessions before giving your home to your lender. You will have to pay the cost of removing and storing these items.
Notice of intention to enforce a non-money judgement
If you haven't left the property or handed your keys back your bank or building society must use the Enforcement of Judgements Office to enforce the Possession Order. You'll receive a legal letter, called a Notice of Intention to Enforce. This gives you ten days to come to some sort of arrangement with your lender. You should get advice to find out what your options are and whether it's still possible to stop your lender from repossessing your home.
After ten days your lender can apply for possession of your property. You will receive a Notice of Intention to make an Order for Possession of Land.
Stopping the eviction
It may be possible to stop the repossession by coming to an arrangement with your lender or landlord. You might be able to object to the order if you have a really strong legal case or there's been a change in your circumstances that means you now have a way of repaying what you owe. You have eight days to object to the repossession from when you received the Notice. There must be a legal reason for objecting to the order. Contact a local advice agency for help if you are planning to object.
Write to the Enforcement of Judgments Office, and state
- the reasons for your objection
- that you want the case to be heard by the Master
- your case reference number.
If your objection is unsuccessful the Enforcement of Judgments Office will serve an Order for Delivery of Possession of Land. You still have the right to object at this stage. Although the longer the situation goes on, the harder it becomes to enter into negotiations.
How long does it take for a possession order to be enforced?
The duration of the enforcement process varies from case to case. It can often take a a number of months for the possession order to be enforced. Once the Enforcement of Judgments Office gets involved, you can usually only stop your lender from getting your home by applying to the court for a stay. If there are no grounds for a stay you need to start making plans to move somewhere else before the Enforcement of Judgments Office arrive to physically remove you.
Your personal items
You will have to pay the costs if the Enforcement of Judgments Office have to remove your possessions from your house. Your possessions will be stored for 28 days. If you haven't paid to collect them within the 28 days, they will be sold at auction to cover the Enforcement of Judgments Office's costs. If you pass the 4 tests for homelessness the Housing Executive may be responsible for storing your belongings.
Enforcement of Judgements Office fees
The Enforcement of Judgements Office (EJO) charges a fee for enforcing a court order. Your lender will pay these fees but will then add the cost of the fees on to the amount that you owe.
Remember, even if the Enforcement of Judgements Office is already involved, it may still be able to stop the repossession and reach an agreement with your lender. Talk to an adviser urgently if you've received letters from the Enforcement of Judgements Office.