Understanding and preventing home repossession: A comprehensive guide by Dan Green

  • By Dan Green, Home Selling Expert Founder
  • 4 minutes read

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I'm a property expert that still remembers the days when having broadband was a selling point! My articles cover issues that homesellers face in the UK and answer the questions we're all asking. I've bought and sold properties and helped others do the same, so my writing comes from years of experience.

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Hello! I’m Dan Green, and if there’s anything I know better than Leicester City’s ups and downs, it’s the UK property market. Today, I’m discussing a topic that’s often difficult to talk about; stopping home repossession. You might think it’s a gloomy subject, but it’s one that needs to be addressed. So, whether you’re just about holding onto your home, or you’re keen to understand the ins and outs of repossession (without the legal jargon), you’re in the right place. And I’ve got three case studies to show that things can be turned around. Ready to find out how? Grab yourself a cuppa and let’s dive in…

 

What is repossession?

Repossession. Just the word can cause your heart to beat as fast as the tempo of a drum and bass track at a rave. But what exactly is ‘repossession’?

In simple terms, repossession is what happens when a mortgage lender takes back possession of your property. This usually occurs because, well, sometimes life happens, and keeping up with mortgage payments can become difficult.

There are two types of repossession; voluntary and involuntary. Here’s a brief explanation about each of them:

Voluntary repossession
This is when you wave the white flag yourself. You tell your lender, ‘I can’t do this anymore’, and hand over the keys. It’s a bit like breaking up with someone before they break up with you. Both sides might sense it’s coming, but you make the first move.

Involuntary repossession
Think of this as the ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ approach from your lender, except it’s definitely you. Or more accurately, it’s due to an inability to keep up with payments. The lender goes through the court to take back your home, and you’re forced to part ways with your property.

Both paths lead to the same destination; losing your home. But the journey there can look quite different, with varying impacts on your financial health and emotional wellbeing.

Understanding repossession is the first step in avoiding it. It’s like knowing where the puddles are, and with the right knowledge, you can sidestep them and stay dry. So, let’s move on to understanding the process, so we can work on dodging those puddles…

 

The repossession process: A step-by-step guide

Navigating through the repossession process without a map is like trying to find your way out of a maze blindfolded, after spinning around for a minute. But don’t worry, I’m here to guide you through it, step by step, so you can keep your eyes wide open and avoid any surprises.

Early warning signs

First off, the early warning signs that trouble might be brewing. Missed mortgage payments are the biggest red flag. Your lender will notice, and so should you.

The lender’s initial contact

After a missed payment or two, expect a nudge from your lender, likely in the form of letters or phone calls. They’re not just checking in to say ‘hello’; they’re reminding you that you’re veering off track. Imagine your bank as a slightly overbearing parent during your uni days, asking if you’ve done your laundry, submitted the essay, and got your shopping in for the week. They’re concerned, and you need to respond by reassuring them that things are in order. But don’t lie. Be honest, open and upfront about everything that’s going on, no matter how hard it might seem to share everything.

Court proceedings

If things don’t improve, your lender might start court proceedings to repossess your home. This is serious. You’ll receive a notice of the hearing, and this is your cue to either gear up for a fight or start considering your options seriously.

The repossession order

Should the court decide in favour of your lender, they’ll issue a repossession order. It’s a bit like being shown a red card in a match – you need to leave the pitch, or in this case, your home. However, you’ll typically be given a bit of time to pack up your life and find somewhere new to stay.

What happens after a repossession order is granted?

Once the order is granted, you’ll have to vacate the property by a specified date. If not, bailiffs can come to remove you from the property, which is as unpleasant as it sounds.

Understanding each step of this process is crucial. Knowledge is power, and in this case, it’s the power to take action early and potentially avoid repossession altogether. Let’s get straight into the next section, where we’ll explore how you can stop this process in its tracks.

 

Section 3: How to stop repossession

Okay, now we’ve navigated the stormy seas of the repossession process, it’s time to chart a course toward calmer waters. Stopping repossession might seem as challenging as trying to get a suntan in the Scottish Highlands, but it’s not impossible. Here’s how you can turn the tide:

Communicate with your lender

The first step is as simple as picking up the phone. Reach out to your lender the moment you sniff trouble brewing. Communication is key, and may help you to hold onto your house keys. Whilst it can seem daunting to make that call – and you’ll think of all the things you’d rather do than phone them – lenders would rather work something out with you than go through the hassle and expense of repossessing your home. You might be able to arrange a new payment plan, a payment holiday, or even change the terms of your mortgage. It’s always worth asking what can be done.

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Seek professional advice

Navigating through financial troubles without advice is like trying to fix a leaky tap with duct tape. Sure, it might hold for a bit, but it’s not a permanent solution. Contact a financial advisor or a debt charity because these folks have seen it all before and can guide you through what to do.

Government schemes

The government has a few tricks up its sleeve, like the Mortgage Rescue scheme, which is designed to help homeowners facing serious financial difficulties. It’s definitely worth exploring these options.

Repossession stoppers: The role of cash buying companies

Cash buying companies can be a way to stop repossession. Selling your home to a cash buyer can be rapid, allowing you to settle debts swiftly and dodge the stress and anxiety of repossession. But tread carefully because this option might not suit everyone. Consider the offer carefully and ask questions if you’re unsure about anything.

Stopping repossession might feel a bit like stopping a runaway train in an action film. It takes quick thinking, decisive action, and sometimes, a bit of help from professionals. Remember, the goal isn’t just to keep your home, but to stabilise your financial situation for the long term.

 

Benefits of stopping repossession early

There are undoubtedly benefits to nipping repossession in the bud. It’s not just about keeping the roof over your head; it’s about safeguarding your future, both emotionally and financially. Let’s find out why acting swiftly is so important…

Emotional and financial impacts

Stopping repossession early can significantly reduce stress and anxiety. Financially, it keeps your credit score from taking a nosedive. A good credit score is like having a VIP pass; it opens doors to future borrowing, better interest rates, and financial opportunities.

A repossession on your credit record is like a stubborn stain on your favourite shirt; it’s hard to get rid of and everyone can see it. By preventing repossession, you avoid this mark on your credit history, keeping your credit score healthier and your future borrowing costs lower.

Action Immediate benefit Long-term benefit
Communicating with lender Avoids additional charges and potential legal actions Maintains healthier lender relationships and credit score
Seeking Advice Provides clarity and potential solutions Leads to more sustainable financial management
Exploring Government help Can provide immediate financial relief Offers a foundation for financial stability
Selling to cash buying companies Quick resolution, stops repossession Allows for a fresh start without the burden of debt


Stopping repossession early is akin to catching a small leak before it becomes a flood. It saves you from financial ruin, keeps your credit score from tanking, and spares you the emotional turmoil of losing your home. It’s about making smart moves early on, so you’re not left picking up the pieces later. Keep calm, act early, and you can weather this storm.

 

Success stories: Turning the tide on repossession

Nothing quite sparks a fire of hope like hearing tales of those who’ve danced on the edge but pirouetted back to safety. It’s a bit like hearing about Leicester City’s miraculous escape from relegation in 2015, then clinching the Premier League title the following season. Here are three stories I want to share with you…

Case study 1: The comeback kid

Jamie was inches away from having his home repossessed. He’d missed several mortgage payments after a sudden job loss and felt like he was watching his life crumble from the sidelines. But Jamie didn’t give up. He reached out to his lender, explaining his situation honestly and earnestly. Together, they worked out a temporary payment plan that allowed him to catch up, without the immediate threat of losing his home. Jamie’s story didn’t end there though, He found a new job and even started a small side business to ensure he’d never be in that precarious position again.

Case study 2: The phoenix rises

Sarah’s tale is one of resilience. Facing repossession after a messy divorce that left her finances in tatters, Sarah felt like she was at rock bottom. The thought of losing her family home was the wake-up call she needed. She sought advice from a debt charity, which helped her prioritise her debts and negotiate with creditors. Sarah also cut back on non-essentials, channelling every spare penny into saving her home. Within a year, she’d turned her situation around. Her advice? ‘It’s about the small wins. Each bill paid felt like a step away from the edge. Don’t underestimate the power of small victories.’

 

Case study 3: The swift save

Meet Deepak, a hardworking chef, whose world was turned upside down when his restaurant was forced to close. The financial strain quickly hit, leading Deepak to the brink of repossession. With time running out and traditional selling methods being too slow to avert the crisis, Deepak looked for a rapid solution.

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That’s when he discovered the option of selling to a cash buyer. Deepak did his homework, researching the company’s reputation and reading testimonials from homeowners who had been in similar predicaments. Reassured, Deepak decided to go ahead.

The cash buyer assessed his situation with empathy and professionalism, making an offer on his flat within days. The offer was fair, considering his urgent need to sell and the market conditions. By choosing this route, Deepak was able to sell his flat quickly, settle his debts, and avoid repossession, all within the span of a month.

The sale provided Deepak with the fresh start he desperately needed. With the proceeds, he was able to get a more affordable property and even set aside a little nest egg as he embarked on his new venture; a small catering business run from his new home.

Deepak’s story is a testament to the power of quick decision-making and exploring all available options. His advice to others? ‘If you need a quick exit, cash buyers can be a lifeline. Just make sure to do your research like I did and choose a reputable company with lots of online testimonials.’

 

Tips from those who’ve been through it

  • Open communication: Keep the lines of communication open with your lender. They can’t help if they don’t know the full story, so be honest.
  • Explore all avenues: From debt charities to government schemes, there’s more help out there than you might think.
  • Stay positive: yes, it’s easier said than done, but maintaining a positive outlook is crucial. Focus on solutions, not problems.
  • Budget wisely: Review your spending and focus on what’s essential.
  • Research: Check carefully before taking any big steps and read reviews from others that have been in a similar situation.

Success stories like those  of Jamie, Sarah and Deepak show us that while the threat of repossession is a dark cloud, it doesn’t have to end in a storm. With the right actions and some perseverance, it’s possible to turn things around. Keep faith, take action, and you’ll soon be writing your own comeback story.

The future of repossession in the UK

ThisIsMoney say that the number of homes repossessed by county court bailiffs more than doubled in the final three months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, as mortgage rates increased and inflation squeezed household budgets.

From October to December 2022, a total of 733 homes were taken into possession, up 134% from the year before, according to data from the Ministry of Justice. In addition, claims for possessions – the start of the process for lenders looking to repossess a property for mortgage arrears – increased by a quarter and warrants for possession rose 88%.

It’s important to note that there was a ban on repossessions between the start of the pandemic and May 2021, so some of the increase noted above may be due to the backlog that built up during that time.

So, as we peek into the crystal ball to predict the future of home repossession in the UK, it’s like trying to second-guess the weather; it’s a bit unpredictable, but certain patterns emerge. The landscape of homeownership and property finance is ever-evolving, shaped by economic factors, legislation, and societal shifts. But what can we expect on the horizon?

Trends and predictions

  1. Technological advancements
    The future is digital, and the property market is no exception. From online platforms offering financial management tools to apps that help you track mortgage payments, technology will play a pivotal role in helping homeowners stay ahead of the curve and out of the repossession zone.
  2. Changing legislation
    Keep an eye on the legal landscape. Changes in property law and financial regulations may offer additional protections for homeowners, making the path to repossession more akin to a stroll in the park rather than a sprint through a minefield.

Conclusion

As we wrap up our comprehensive journey through the murky waters of stopping repossession, it’s clear that while the path may seem daunting, it’s far from insurmountable. Keeping the wolf from your door is more achievable than you might think.

Stopping repossession isn’t just about dodging a financial bullet; it’s about preserving the sanctity of your home, maintaining your mental well-being, and protecting your financial future.

Don’t forget that the keys to success are early action, open communication, and seeking the right support, just as we saw with Jamie, Sarah and Deepak. Whether it’s chatting with your lender, consulting a financial advisor, contacting a cash buyer, or exploring government schemes, the resources are out there.

Let’s face it, life throws us curveballs, and sometimes they come fast and hard. But with a bit of preparation, knowledge, and the willingness to reach out for help, you can catch them or even dodge them altogether. The goal is to keep your home safe and secure.

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Remember, it’s not just about the bricks and mortar; it’s about building a stable foundation for your future. Keep your chin up, your spirits high, and your action plan ready.

As I close this piece on repossession, I hope you feel a bit more equipped to face the challenges ahead. And before I sign off, I want to leave you with a nugget of reassurance.

If you’re facing repossession, remember that you’re not alone. There’s a wealth of support and guidance out there to shelter you through this storm. The path might seem fraught with challenges, but with the right advice, decisive action, and a sprinkle of resolve, you can navigate through.

Help is available, and brighter days are on the horizon. Together, let’s ensure that the home you’ve worked so hard for remains just that; yours.

Thank you for joining me on this journey, and remember, in the grand tapestry of life, this is but a dropped stitch.

Keep calm, carry on, and things will get better. After all, there’s no place like home, especially when it’s one you can call securely your own.


FAQs – Your questions answered by Dan Green

In the spirit of demystifying the path to stopping repossession, let’s tackle ten of the most frequently asked questions…

Q: Can I stop repossession once it’s already started?

A: Yes! You can negotiate with your lender, rearrange your payment plan, or seek professional advice. The key is to not give up hope, and to always act swiftly.

Q: Is it possible to prevent repossession even though court proceedings are underway?

A: You can still negotiate with your lender or seek advice to find a solution. Always act quickly.

Q: Will repossession ruin my credit score forever?

A: Not forever, but it does put a sizable dent in your credit score. However, with time and responsible financial behaviour, you can improve your score again.

Q: How can I avoid repossession?

A: Start by talking to your lender the moment you sense trouble; it’s like calling a plumber at the first sight of a drip rather than waiting for the flood. Consider government schemes, seek financial advice, and explore all available options.

Q: What should I do if I can’t afford legal advice?

A: There are several charities and organisations offering free advice. I’ve put some links below.

Q: Is selling my property the only way to stop repossession?

A: Not at all. Selling is just one option. You might also restructure your debt, enter into a new payment plan with your lender, or find temporary relief through government assistance.

Q: How long does the repossession process take?

A: It varies, and from the first missed payment it can take several months to over a year before actual repossession takes place, giving you time to explore your options.

Q: Can I get my home back after repossession?

A: It’s tough, but not impossible. You’d need to settle the debt and any additional fees, which can be challenging but not out of reach.

Q: How can I sell my home quickly to avoid repossession?

A: Cash buying companies are an option, but check you’re dealing with a reputable company to get a fair deal.

Q: Does repossession affect my ability to buy a home in the future?

A: As mentioned, it does impact your credit score, making borrowing more challenging for a while. However, time can help you to improve your financial standing and credit score, and you’ll find the path to homeownership open again.

 

Further reading

Navigating the complexities of repossession and securing your financial future requires a good read and reliable resources. Here are some valuable links to websites that provide in-depth information and support on stopping repossession, managing finances, and understanding your rights as a homeowner.

Money Advice Service
https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk
An independent service, set up by the government, offering free and impartial advice on money matters, including dealing with mortgage arrears and repossession.

Citizens Advice
https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Provides free, confidential, and independent advice to help people overcome their problems, including financial difficulties leading to repossession.

The National Debtline
https://www.nationaldebtline.org
A charity offering free advice and support for those dealing with debt in England, Wales, and Scotland, with specific guidance on dealing with the threat of repossession.

StepChange Debt Charity
https://www.stepchange.org
Offers debt advice and solutions, including a dedicated section for mortgage arrears and repossession, helping you understand your options and next steps.

Shelter England
https://england.shelter.org.uk
Provides advice on housing, homelessness, and repossession, offering practical advice on how to deal with mortgage arrears and the risk of losing your home.

Gov.uk – Mortgage Problems
https://www.gov.uk/options-for-paying-off-your-debts/mortgage-problems
The official UK government website offers advice and information on dealing with mortgage problems, including what to do if you’re facing repossession.

Please use these resources to arm yourself with knowledge and take control of your situation. Remember, knowledge is power; the power to change your course and steer towards a brighter financial future.

By Dan Green, Home Selling Expert Founder

author

By Dan Green, Home Selling Expert Founder

I'm a property expert that still remembers the days when having broadband was a selling point! My articles cover issues that homesellers face in the UK and answer the questions we're all asking. I've bought and sold properties and helped others do the same, so my writing comes from years of experience.

Read Full Bio >

Success rate when selling
through estate agents

Selling to house-buying company

  • Formal offer within 24-48 hours
  • Complete in as little as 14 days
  • No contracts - change your mind if you aren’t happy
  • No viewings or chains
  • Sell your house as-is
  • Sell for approx 80-85% market value
  • Some disreputable companies

Selling with Estate Agent

  • Wait for viewings and offers
  • Delays with solicitors
  • Lengthy contracts - can’t withdraw
  • Viewings at inconvenient times, many will be in chain
  • House should be at its best to impress viewers
  • Get the highest price possible
  • Estate agents are tightly regulated

On average, you should expect to sell for 85-90% of you property’s full value when selling by auction.

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