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What is Property Repossession? House Repossession, UK Legal

If you’re a landlord seeking possession of your property because you’re tenant has not paid the rent you cannot just ask them to leave or change the lock of their property. The tenant has every right of occupation due to their tenancy agreement, so you must ensure you serve them with a notice of eviction before making an application to the court.

The courts in England and Wales will only allow the landlord to take possession of the property if the fixed term of the tenancy has come to an end and the landlord has given at least two months’ notice to the tenant in writing before starting court proceedings.

However, if the tenant is in breach of any part of the agreement, then the landlord may apply for property repossession, even if the tenancy agreement has not come to an end. The landlord can rely on any of grounds 2,8,10,11,12, 13,14,14A, 15 or 17 as applies to assured tenancies.

Before the Landlord can take any action to obtain a Possession Order from the Court, he or she must first serve a Notice of Intention to seek possession. The amount of notice required will be determined by the ground on which the landlord seeks a Possession Order.

  • For ground 2, the Landlord must give two months’ notice.
  • For grounds 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 14A, 15 and 17 the landlord must give two weeks’ notice.

The notice must be given on a special form that informs the tenants about their rights (Section 8 Notice). If the proceedings are not started within 12 months of the notice being served, a new notice must be served.

Repossession orders |

In a foreclosure case, the lender must appear before the court to plead for permission. The ruling may vary – the judge could adjourn it, set aside and dismiss your case or grant UK property repossession rights over your home. Understandably nerve-wracking.

With court permission, the lender can retake your home if they choose to do so. The judge however may decide on a different course of action such as postponing their decision or terminating the case and no order will be made in its place. On other occasions, property repossession orders could potentially be granted by legal authorities depending on certain conditions being met.

Outright possession order |

Lenders have the legal right to take ownership of your home on a given date, which is usually 28 days after a court hearing. If you don’t leave by this point in time then they can ask for an eviction order from the court.

With an ‘Order for Possession’, your lender can gain legal ownership of your home after 28 days. If you haven’t vacated the premises by then, they may take matters a step further and have you evicted through court proceedings.

Suspended possession order |

Adhere to your payment plan, and you can continue living in the comfort of your own home. Ignoring payments could put you at risk of eviction by court order. Consistent payments on the agreed-upon order can help ensure you keep your home. However, if these payments are not maintained, then lenders may take legal action – potentially resulting in eviction from your residence.

Money order |

Failure to abide by the payments demanded in a money order can have serious consequences. Your lender could resort to wage garnishment or repossessing your possessions if circumstances go unresolved. Fortunately, eviction isn’t something that lenders are able to take recourse towards when it comes to this type of legal document; however, they may still return to court and receive possession orders from judges as punishment for non-payment.

Possession order with a money judgment |

A money judgment is an amount that you are legally obligated to pay, composed of your mortgage arrears, court fees and lender’s legal costs. You can avoid incurring a money judgment as long as you make payments on time or if the sale price when your home is sold exceeds the total sum specified in it. If payment isn’t made according to this agreement, however, lenders may request additional action from courts regarding carrying out instructions set by possession orders and judgments they have assigned previously.

Time order |

As a homeowner, it may be possible to use the court’s power to alter your mortgage temporarily. The judge can introduce changes such as modifying the regular payments due and/or changing the interest rate of your loan – even delaying future instalments if needed. However, failure to keep up with repayments means you could face eviction from your lender through legal action. Time orders are mainly used for second mortgages only so make sure that the property qualifies; then seek advice on whether this is an option available in dealing with financial stressors or difficulties associated with any other type of home loan.

Home repossession process

1. Lender contacts you about mortgage arrears |

If you miss a mortgage payment, your lender will likely get in touch to discuss repaying any arrears. To find the best solution for yourself and ensure affordability moving forward, consider evaluating your income and expenses while prioritizing debts as well as creating financial plans that take into account potential scenarios—paying off debt or selling of property if need be. Your lender may allow an affordable repayment plan; however, it’s wise to have all bases covered should other options arise.

Missing a mortgage payment can be a stressful experience, but if you’re in arrears there are some steps you can take to deal with it. Evaluate your income and outgoings then prioritize debts before preparing an accurate financial statement for your lender. This will enable them to build up a picture of what is affordable for you so that both parties could agree on a suitable repayment plan or look at other options such as giving yourself time to sell the property.

2. Lender starts court action |

Your lender may want to take action if you can’t keep up with payments, but this should only be a last resort. To begin the legal process they’ll need detailed records that list all of your missed payments and owed debts – as well as their own guidelines for property or home repossessions. Taking these precautions assures fairness between both parties before entering court proceedings.

3. The court sends you the paperwork |

The court may send you a variety of documents that require your careful attention. Be sure to store these communications in one safely-secured place such as a file or folder, so they can be accessed quickly when needed.

This table shows the main documents you should get.

Letters receivedWhat this means
Claim and defence formsYour lender has applied for a possession order.
Notice of possession hearingThe court has arranged a hearing for you to attend.

Before submitting any documents, diligently review them first and don’t forget to finish the defence form! Doing so will help ensure a smooth process.

4. You attend the possession hearing |

Failure to attend a property repossession hearing can have a disastrous outcome – the court could issue an eviction order, resulting in potential homelessness. To ensure you’re on top of your finances and are able to settle any agreements with lenders promptly, it is essential that you make this appearance.

If you’ve been unable to resolve the issues with your lender, an essential hearing will ensue. Prompt attendance is crucial – should you fail to appear before the court, a possession order could be instated and put at risk your property rights.

5. The court makes a decision |

Possession orders are serious legal documents that can make or break a homeowner’s future. Outright possession orders require homeowners to leave their homes within four weeks, so it is essential for those in this situation to contact Shergroupies rapidly and explore if the order could be set aside or changed into a suspended order – granting them continued residence under tighter controls like an elevated payment amount each month. Alternatively, there is also the hope of dismissal or adjournment at the hearing stage which might result in favourable outcomes without needing further action from involved persons.

6. When bailiffs can be asked to evict you |

When a lender applies for an eviction warrant from the court, they must send notice to your home that this has been done. You may face imminent eviction after 14 days if no action is taken – unless you have already secured either an outright order or a suspended order with terms intact.

7. Sale of your home by the lender

When an eviction occurs, your home is sold off to pay the mortgage lender and any other secured creditors. Depending on the sale’s outcome, you may even be responsible for settling a possible shortfall between what was owed versus received from the property’s value.

In the event of an eviction, your mortgage lender will take control over marketing and selling your home. All outstanding debts to creditors must be settled using funds collected from the sale with any remaining proceeds going back to you; however, if there is a difference between what was owed on the loan versus what could actually be acquired through reselling it – then make sure you are aware that this shortfall may have to come out of pocket.

The Government Has Announced |

While this national emergency is in effect, emergency legislation will prevent new evictions from social or private rented housing. No new possession proceedings will be initiated during the crisis through court applications.

Landlords will be protected as well, with the extension of the 3-month mortgage payment holiday to Buy to Let mortgages.

The government has now changed the minimum notice periods tenants receive for evictions from three to six months. This instruction will be in place in England until at least 31 March 2021, apart from in cases involving things like anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse.

Reasons to End the Tenancy Early |

The landlord may want to end the tenancy early if:

  • The tenant has not paid the rent and continues to live on the property
  • The tenant has caused damage to the property and has failed to repair it despite being notified by the landlord
  • The tenant is not permitted to live in the United Kingdom

Before you can get a Possession Order from the court to end the tenancy, you must first serve a section 8 notice on the tenant.

Can The Landlord End the Tenancy Without Any Reason?

No, the landlord can only end the tenancy for one or more of the reasons listed in the Housing Act 1988. There are 17 grounds in total to end the tenancies, but most landlords would like to end the tenancy because either the tenant has not been able to pay the rent or because they have damaged the property without repairing it.

Let’s Understand the Grounds to Seek a Possession Order |

Ground 8 |

This is a mandatory ground, and the court must make a possession order in 14 days (due to the pandemic this period has been extended by the court until 1st October 2021 in England) provided it is satisfied that when the notice is served and at the time of the hearing there are:

  • At least 8 weeks of rent arrears, where rent is payable weekly or every two weeks
  • At least 2 months of rent arrears, where rent is payable monthly
  • More than three months in arrears, where rent is payable every three months
  • More than three months in arrears, where rent is payable yearly

Grounds 10 & 11 |

The other grounds considered for rent arrears are Grounds 10 and 11 but the court does not have to grant an order. However, these grounds should always be included as a fallback. If the rent is unpaid at the time the section 8 notice is served and has not been paid by the start of the possession proceedings, Ground 10 applies.

Ground 11 applies when the tenant has been consistently late in paying the rent whether or not he has been actually in arrears.

Ground 13 |

If the tenant has damaged the property and has not got it repaired, then Ground 13 can be used for repossession. Damage to property under Ground 13 includes any common areas to which the tenant has access in the building where their property is located. A tenant will also be considered to have damaged the property if they allow someone living with them, such as a sub-tenant, to do so.

Ground 7B |

This ground is applied for property repossession in UK for occupants who are disqualified because of their immigration status.

What is the Process of Rental Repossession?

The majority of private tenancies are granted on the basis of a guaranteed shorthold tenancy. A Section 21 notice or the service of a notice under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 can be used to terminate these agreements.

Section 21 notice | The landlord does not need to have a reason or grounds for serving the section 21 notice for eviction to the tenant when their tenancy agreement comes to an end or after the first four months of them occupying the property.

Section 8 notice | A section 8 notice, on the other hand, is only issued if the tenant violates their tenancy agreement, such as by failing to pay rent or engaging in anti-social behaviour. This can be served at any time while they are a tenant. The landlord will also have to go through the legal proceedings.

Possession Order |

When a possession order is issued by the court the tenant must leave the property by the date mentioned in the court order. Usually, the possession date is 14 days after the date the court makes the order. If the tenant still refuses to leave the property by that date, then the landlord must apply for a warrant of possession from the court by completing Form N325 and the court will send a bailiff to evict the tenant.

How Long Does It Take To Repossess a House UK?

The duration to repossess a house in the UK can vary. The process typically involves several stages, including legal proceedings and court orders. On average, it may take several months to a year or more to complete the repossession process. The timeline is influenced by factors such as the complexity of the case, court availability, and any potential negotiations between the lender and the borrower. It’s essential to seek legal advice and follow the proper legal procedures to ensure a lawful and timely repossession process.

Summing-up |

If you already have a possession order and need experts to drive it ahead for you, please speak to our expert team who can guide you on timelines costs and any procedural points you need to complete before you pay our fee.

Navigate the property repossession process in the UK seamlessly with Shergroup. Explore for a comprehensive review or reach out to us at [email protected] or 020 3588 4240 to initiate a discussion about your case. Take the initial steps toward resolution with our expert guidance and efficient support.

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Last updated | 19 July 2023

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