When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Taken to court by your lender

There are many stages your lender must go through before you have to leave your home. The legal process can take a long time. Get advice as soon as possible and keep talking to your lender. It is still possible to save your home. 

Why are homes repossessed?

A court can only order that your home should be repossessed if there is a legal reason to do so. The most common reason is that:

  • you have missed a lot of payments on your mortgage, or
  • you have missed a lot of payments on a loan secured on your home

There are less common reasons for repossessing a property, including if:

  • your leaseholder tries to evict you for breaking the terms of your lease or not paying your ground rent,
  • you are bankrupt
  • a public body makes a "compulsory purchase order" to buy your home to make way for a major development.

Finding out you have to go to court about your home

Your lender will contact you to try to solve the problem before taking legal action against you. 

The lender will only start legal action against you if you cannot come to an agreement. The lender will write to you again to warn you that it wants to take you to court. Contact our helpline if you get a letter threatening court action. 

When can a lender take you to court over mortgage debt?

Your lender must take certain steps before taking court action against you. The courts wrote these steps to make sure that borrowers and lenders act in a fair and reasonable way. The court expects you and the lender to have tried to reach an agreement about the debt before going to court. 

The court will expect you and the lender to discuss 

  • the reasons for your missed payments
  • your financial circumstances
  • ways in which you could repay the debt.

The court will also expect that your lender has

  • told you to get independent advice
  • told you to contact the Housing Executive for information about your housing options
  • considered your suggestions to repay the debt
  • given you reasonable time to consider its repayment plans.

If you or the lender has failed to be reasonable, this may impact on the court's decisions. 

Your lender can apply to court for a possession order if you cannot agree on how to repay the debt. 

Receiving a court summons

The court office will post a summons to your address. This explains that your lender is seeking an Order for Possession of your home. 

A few weeks later you will receive more information from the court. This will include a Notice of Hearing telling you the date and time you must go to court. You will receive a copy of the lender's Grounding Affidavit. This will include the details of the mortgage. 

Get advice immediately if you receive any legal paperwork from your lender.