The process a lender usually follows if you fall behind on your mortgage payments are detailed below.
Step 1 – The lender sends you a letter about your mortgage arrears
The first step a lender will take is to contact you if you do miss a payment. This could be by letter or other communication.
Step 2 – The lender issues you with a default notice
The lender will send you a default notice that gives you at least 30 days to make up your missed mortgage repayment(s) and any other due payment that falls within the relevant period.
If you do receive a default notice, you can:
- Pay the amount you owe – and any other payments that fall due in the notice period.
- Ask your lender to temporarily reduce or delay your mortgage repayments – you need to have this confirmed in writing using the lenders hardship variation form. If you are not satisfied with your lender’s response and if you don’t have time to complain to their internal dispute resolution department, you can lodge a dispute with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) or the Credit and Investment Ombudsman (CIO).
- Sell your house – you may need to consider selling the house, especially if your financial situation is not likely to improve anytime soon. You will need to speak to the lender about this decision and they may ask for proof that you are selling your property. This could include a copy of the contract of sale or any advertisements.
If you don’t take any of the above steps before the notice period expires, your entire loan will become due and payable. You lender can begin legal action to take possession of your house and sell it to repay your mortgage.
If your property is being rented, is vacant or is undeveloped land, the lender can take possession without going to court. If you receive a default notice, you need to act.
Step 3 – The lender takes you to court
When your default notice period expires, the lender can serve you with court proceedings to get possession of your home so that it can be sold. This will give you a little time in which to act by either filing a defence or going to court.
If you are served with court proceedings, seek legal advice urgently.
If you do nothing, your lender can obtain a court order to take possession of your house.
Step 4 – The lender applies for a court order
If you have not taken any action after receiving a default notice or being served with court proceedings within the specified time frame, the lender can then apply for a court order to take possession of your home. If your lender applies for a court order to repossess your home, seek legal advice urgently.
Step 5 – The lender sends you a letter telling you to vacate the premises
If the lender has obtained a court order to take possession of your house, they will send you a letter telling you to move out. A Sheriff (also known as a Bailiff) will come and change the locks on the property. This letter is also known as a Notice to Vacate or a Warrant for Possession.
If you have received a letter to move out of your property, seek legal advice urgently.
Step 6 – The lender has you evicted from your premises
At this point, the lender can send a Sheriff (or Bailiff) to your home to evict you and change the locks. This enables them to be able to sell your home.