You may be entitled to stay in your home
Whether you can stay in your home will depend on the type of decision the court makes at the County Court possession hearing. You may be able to stay if the court decides to strike out or adjourn the case, or to make a suspended possession order.
If you have already been to court but you are not sure what the order said, you can ask the court office. If you don’t understand what it means, get advice from Shelter Cymru. Ring or email our expert housing advisers, or, if you prefer, find out where your nearest Shelter Cymru advice surgery is here.
The case was struck out
If the judge decided to strike out or dismiss your lender’s claim, it probably means that your lender didn’t have the right to evict you, or didn’t follow the correct legal procedure. This means you can stay in your home and your rights and responsibilities will be the same as before. However, your lender or freeholder can ask the court to evict you again in future if it gets new evidence and follows the correct procedure.
The case was adjourned
If the judge has adjourned your case, it means that the case couldn’t be decided at the hearing.
This may have happened because:
- the judge needs more information to make a decision
- you need time to raise a lump sum to pay off all or some of your arrears
- you are selling your home and need time to complete the sale.
If you have mortgage arrears, you may have to pay a certain amount each week or month as a condition of the case being adjourned. It is very important to stick to these conditions. If you don’t, the judge is more likely to order a date for you to leave the property when your case goes back to court. The judge should explain the conditions to you, and you will get written confirmation of the order in the post. If the order isn’t clear, get specialist advice.
Your case may have been adjourned indefinitely or for a fixed period of time. In either situation, 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 circumstances change.
Contact a local advice centre if your case has been adjourned and you need advice about what you should do next. The sooner you seek specialist advice the better, so don’t delay.
The court made a suspended possession order
If the judge made a suspended possession order, you can stay in your home as long as you keep to certain conditions as ordered by the court. The conditions should be explained in the order, but if it isn’t clear, get advice. In many cases, the order will say that you have to pay a certain amount off your arrears each month on top of your monthly 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 be evicted very easily. For example, if you miss even one payment, or pay less than the sums ordered, your lender can apply to the court for a bailiff’s warrant straight away. There isn’t normally another hearing and you may only get a few days’ warning before the bailiffs arrive to evict you. If you receive a letter from the court bailiff, get advice immediately. There may still be time to stop the eviction from going ahead.
If you think you are likely to have problems sticking to the conditions of a suspended possession order, you should contact your lender and/or get advice immediately. Don’t put off dealing with the situation, as your lender (or other creditor) may be able to evict you very quickly if you don’t come to an agreement.
Even if the situation seems hopeless, an adviser may be able to help you find a solution. For example, if you have lost your job it may be possible to get the conditions of the order changed to make the repayments more manageable for you until your circumstances improve. 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. However, if you are claiming benefits or you are on a low income you may be able to get help with these costs but you will need to show the court evidence of your low income when you make your application.
Avoiding payment problems in future
If you are worried that you may have ongoing problems affording your mortgage payments, you should get advice to stop your arrears from increasing. If your lender or its solicitor contacts you about your arrears, don’t ignore their letters or phone calls. If you don’t respond, your lender is much more likely to take you to court.
If you are having financial problems, contact the Shelter Cymru’s debt advice service. They might be able to help you deal with your lender and come to an achievable solution. For example, it may be possible to negotiate with your lender to reduce your monthly payments by extending the term of your mortgage or switching to a different repayment method.
You can also use our online budget planner