Whenever you fail to keep up with the payments on a loan secured on your property, there is always the risk that the lender will take legal action to evict you. The process has a number of stages and can last a few weeks to a few months or longer. There is the possibility of stopping the process at any stage, so never think that it’s too late to bring your mortgage payments up to date. Remember it’s in mortgage companies’ interest to keep you in the property and paying the mortgage off; they will only turn to eviction as a last resort. The earlier you take action the more options you will have and the less you will have to pay in legal costs. There are special rules about the procedures that must be followed at each stage – if they are not, you may be able to stop or delay the repossession.
Reasons for Repossession
There has to be a sound legal reason to repossess your property. In most cases this will be that you have not kept up with the mortgage payments. A rarer case would be when a leaseholder would evict a freeholder for not paying rent or service charges. This is unusual, however.
The only other way in which you can be made to leave your home is if the Housing Executive or another public body makes a ‘ compulsory purchase order’ to buy your home. This normally only happens if a major local development, such as a road widening scheme, is planned. If you are in this situation you will be entitled to compensation.
Notice from your Lender
In the first instance, the lender would write to you asking that payments be brought up to date. A letter from the lender’s solicitor may come through threatening court action if the issue is not resolved. The next stage would be to write to you advising that a court order for possession has been applied for.
A Summons from the Court
The court will write to you telling you when a hearing is to take place. This is called a summons. When you hear from the court, if you have not already done so, you should get advice immediately about what to do next. It is very important to reply to the court. Failing to reply can harm your case. You should find a solicitor to represent you in court, as they can help you prepare for the hearing and to develop a defence.
At the hearing, the judge will hear from you and the lender and come to decision about what should happen next. Some of the options open to the judge include: allowing you to stay in the property provided you keep to certain conditions, such as repaying the arrears in instalments; giving you time to sell your property to avoid repossession or deciding that you should be evicted.
The Court Order
If the judge decides that you have to leave your home, the court order will set a date for you to leave. If you have not left by that date, your lender must apply to the Enforcement of Judgments Office before you have to leave your home.