The Repossession Hearing – What Happens at a Repossession Hearing on the Day?
Why you should go to a repossession court hearing?
Most mortgage possession hearings are usually held at the local county court and are conducted in private. At the hearing a judge decides if your mortgage lender can repossess your property and it is important that you attend, this gives you more of a chance of keeping your home. This is when you or your advisor will be able to speak to the judge explaining your situation. Going to a county court is not the same as a criminal court and you cannot be sent to prison.
When you arrive at the county court
Arrive in plenty of time at the court (so you are relaxed) before your court hearing appointment and it is usually best to dress smartly. If you attend late the court may already have made an order to repossess your property. Check-in to the front desk, or inform the court staff that you are there to attend the hearing, and find out where your hearing is taking place. Be patient as you may have to wait as there will be other court cases being conducted.
Assistance from a duty court adviser
Ask the court staff (or you could telephone them beforehand) when you arrive if there are any advisers on duty. This free service is usually called the ‘court duty scheme’ and the duty adviser or solicitor may help with any last minute guidance.
A duty adviser can sometimes speak (provided they are not too busy) on your behalf in court or try to negotiate an arrangement with your lender’s representative. Always ensure that you take all relevant letters and documents with you.
Who is allowed into the court hearing?
The judge hears your case and they will check everyone present is there for the correct hearing. If you have an adviser who is not a solicitor, they can speak on your behalf (if they are part of the court’s duty scheme). If they are not, then they must request permission from the judge (this also applies if a friend or a family member) is to speak on your behalf. The general public are not permitted into the hearing.
How the court makes a decision
Your lender’s legal representative will explain what order the lender wants the court to make. This is the point when both parties and the judge will ask questions concerning the repossession. The judge makes a decision based on what the law stipulates and on evidence from you and your mortgage lender.
What decisions can the court make?
Once all of the facts and evidence have been provided the judge can then decide on one of the following actions:
i) Make an outright possession order – this means you are given a date to vacate your property.
ii) Make a suspended possession order – this means you can stay in your home provided you keep to certain conditions agreed with the court.
iii) Adjourn the case – this means a final decision is postponed to a future date.
iv) Strike out the case – meaning the case is dismissed and you can stay in your home.
v) Make a time order – (this covers 2nd mortgages or secured loans only) meaning you can stay in your property as long as you keep to the conditions ordered.
The judge could also instruct a money judgment and an order about court costs from you. Do not be afraid, if at any time, you do not understand any part of the court hearing you can ask the judge to explain this to you. A copy of any court order that is made will be sent to you after the hearing.
If the judge decides you should lose your home, your mortgage lender can then request the court to send bailiffs to evict you.