Finding a home after a repossession
If your home is repossessed and you can’t delay or stop the eviction, you will need to find alternative accommodation. If you lost your home because of mortgage arrears or other debt problems, it may be more difficult to find a place to rent or buy.
If you need help, contact a Shelter Cymru advice centre, citizens advice bureau or other advice centre in your area. We will be able to give you details of your local council’s offices, in case you need to make a homelessness application.
Even if you may be able to stay with family or friends for a while, you will also need to find long-term accommodation that you can afford.
Your options may include:
- buying another property
- applying to your local council as homeless
- renting from a private landlord
- applying for a permanent council or housing association place
- moving into a housing co-op or supported housing.
If you are on a low income and you move into rented accommodation, you may be eligible for housing benefit.
Can I buy another property?
If you buy another property while you still have an outstanding debt to your previous lender, it may be able to put a ‘charge on your new home’ and claim part of the proceeds when it is sold. If the court made a money judgment when your previous home was repossessed, there is no time limit for when your previous lender can do this. If you are in this situation, contact a local advice centre.
You will have to tell any lender that you apply to that your last home was repossessed, so getting a new mortgage may be difficult. It may be worth applying to a few different lenders, but you will have to tell them if your previous application was refused. A specialist mortgage broker may be more likely to find a lender who is willing to give you a mortgage. However, in many cases you will have to provide a larger than normal deposit, and may be charged higher than normal interest rates.
Alternatively, you may be able to get a smaller mortgage and/or buy a place through a homeownership scheme. Contact the council or a local advice service to find out whether there are any schemes in your area.
Can I get help from the council?
Local councils have a legal duty to help some people who are homeless or about to lose their homes. They may be able to provide advice, emergency accommodation and/or longer term housing.
The rules on what sort of help the council must give you are complicated. Your rights will depends on your personal circumstances, but at the very least, the council must look into your situation and give you advice to help you find a home. Read our pages on homelessness for more information on the Council’s varying homelessness duties.
If the council tells you that you are ‘intentionally homeless’ because you didn’t pay your mortgage, the council will only have to help you for a limited time. If this happens and you want advice about the council’s decision, contact an advice centre immediately.
An adviser may be able to help you persuade the council that you did everything you could to keep your home. Most councils are more likely to accept this if you had difficulty paying your mortgage because you lost your job, split up with your partner or became ill.
Some people can get help from social services, even if the housing department won’t help them. An adviser can check whether this applies to you.
Can I rent from a private landlord?
Privately rented accommodation varies widely throughout Wales. In some areas it is cheap and plentiful, and it may be possible to find a suitable place and move in quite quickly. In other areas it can be difficult to find, and may be in poor condition. Rents can also be expensive. There is no legal limit concerning how much landlords can charge to begin with, but there are rules about how often they can increase the rent.
Many private landlords run credit checks on prospective tenants. If your home was repossessed because of mortgage arrears, it may be more difficult to find a landlord who is willing to rent to you.
If you find a place, you will probably have to pay rent in advance and a deposit. If you are on benefits or have a low income, you can apply to the social fund for a loan to cover rent in advance. You will have to pay it back – usually a fixed amount each week. Whether you get a loan or not depends on your circumstances and how much money the social fund has in its budget. In some areas there are also schemes that can help with the deposit, or your local council may also be able to help if they have accepted they have a duty to help you find somewhere to live. Contact a Shelter Cymru advice centre, Citizens Advice bureau or the council to find out if there are any schemes in your area.
From November 2016, all landlords of privately rented properties must be registered with Rent Smart Wales. They must also obtain a license, or if they use an agent to manage their property, the agent must have a license. You can find out if a landlord is registered here.
Can I get a council or housing association place?
In most areas, you can only get a council or housing association tenancy through a waiting list (the housing register). Some people are not eligible to apply, including most people from abroad, or people who are guilty of serious unacceptable behaviour (ie anti-social behaviour or serious rent arrears).
To apply to go on the waiting list you’ll need to fill in an application form, which you can get from the council’s housing department, and provide ID and other documents. If you have problems applying, get advice.
Waiting lists are often very long. How much priority your application is given will depend on your circumstances and how much accommodation is available in the area. In some areas there is a lot of accommodation available, but in other areas you may have little realistic hope of being offered a place at all. You will probably need to look at other options, such as renting from a private landlord, particularly if you need to find somewhere quickly.
What other long-term options are there?
You may want to consider other accommodation options such as supported housing or living in a housing co-op. Contact a local Shelter Cymru advice centre, Citizens Advice Bureau or other advice centre if you are considering these options. They can tell you what is available in your area and how to apply.
You can find more information on accommodation options in our section on finding a place to live