Getting ready for court action
If you are a homeowner, you can only be evicted if the court makes an order telling you to leave. This section explains what happens once your lender has applied to the court to evict you.
If you’ve had a letter from the court contact Shelter Cymru. It’s important to get advice as quickly as possible about what is happening and what you can do about it. An adviser can explain what will happen in court. They can also check if there’s a good reason why you shouldn’t be evicted from your home (ie whether you have a defence) and continue to negotiate with your lender.
How will I find out about the court date?
After the lender applies to the court for possession of your property, the court will write to you telling you when the court hearing will be and send you the claim form. You should have at least 21 days’ notice of the hearing date, but you may be given more notice. You will also receive the ‘particulars of claim’, which explains why the lender wants to evict you. If you’ve had a letter from the court you should get advice as soon as possible.
How should I respond?
The court will also send you a ‘defence form’. This is for you to tell the court about:
- your financial situation
- any offers to repay the arrears
- any other information that you think the judge needs to know, e.g. why you missed payments.
It is important that you return the defence form to the court within 14 days. This is your opportunity to tell the court about your situation. Keep a copy of it. An adviser can help you to fill the form in. The judge will look at both the particulars of claim and defence form before the hearing. Even if you do not return the defence form, it is important that you attend the hearing.
What do I need to do before the hearing?
Before the hearing you need to:
- get advice or see a solicitor. Some courts have court duty help desks on the day of the hearing but you shouldn’t rely on there being one in your court
- complete the defence form you received from the court
- keep negotiating with your lender. If you can reach an agreement before the hearing, the case might not go ahead
- collect together any relevant documents that you think the judge might want to see e.g. pay slips, bank statements, evidence of any lump sum payments due to you which you could use to reduce or clear the arrears
- prepare a detailed breakdown of your household income and expenditure (use our budget planner to help you)
- continue to make regular payments and try to reduce your arrears
- find out where the court hearing is taking place
- prepare notes of what you want to say at the hearing
- arrange for a friend, adviser or solicitor to come to the hearing to help you.
What if I need more time?
If you think you need more time to prepare for the hearing, you must still attend the hearing, but can ask the court to put back the date of the hearing. This is called an adjournment. The court will need a good reason to agree an adjournment.
You might be able to adjourn the hearing if you:
- have been ill and unable to prepare for court
- were on holiday when the claim form arrived and you have only had a few days notice of the hearing
- need more time to get legal advice
- have had a change of circumstances which will improve, or even resolve, the situation.
If you are in arrears and you cannot clear the arrears in full, or if your lender won’t accept an offer to repay the arrears in instalments, the court hearing will go ahead. You can continue to negotiate with your lender right up until the date of the court hearing