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Help for home owners

I’m having problems paying my mortgage, what can I do?

If you are having problems paying your mortgage we will be able to provide you with advice and assistance, on the options available to prevent your homelessness, or the housing options available for finding alternative accommodation should you be repossessed.

You may also want to consider:

  • Can you downsize to reduce your mortgage?
  • Can you get a better deal on your mortgage?
  • Do you have equity you can release by selling?
  • Are you eligible for an equity release scheme?

The housing management staff at our area housing offices can provide homeless prevention advice and information for all customers, and our homeless prevention team can provide more specialist advice to owner-occupiers who are struggling to pay their mortgages.

Email: housing.services@eastriding.gov.uk
Telephone: (01482) 396301

Our homeless prevention team, can provide advice on, or access to, a number of government schemes that aim to provide financial support to home owners hit by the economic downturn. These include:-

  • Support for mortgage interest
  • Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme
  • Repossession Prevention Fund

If you are having problems speak to your lender immediately. Don’t ignore the problem, as you will increase your chance of losing your home, and incurring further mortgage debt due to charges added by your lender. You need to discuss with them what options are realistically open to you. Can you:

  • change to interest only payment?
  • agree a payment holiday?
  • extend the term of the mortgage?

If you have your own mortgage payment protection insurance, look at your policy to see when payments will start to be made as there is often a delay before you receive the first payment. If you do have this insurance, you will need to claim from it before seeking government help.

Support for mortgage interest

If you have lost your job, have savings of less than £16,000, and are claiming income support, job seekers allowance (JSA), employment & support allowance or pension credit you may be eligible for support for mortgage interest (SMI). This benefit pays the interest on the first £200,000 of your mortgage after 13 weeks of making your claim. You have to find the rest of the payments yourself, so if you are eligible for it, it is worth seeing if you can switch your mortgage to an interest only one. You can find out more about support for mortgage interest at the direct gov website.

Direct Gov (external website)

If you have been out of work and receiving a department of works and pensions benefit for 13 weeks or more, you will need to complete a MI12 form and send it to your mortgage lender. They will then process it and return it to jobcentre plus. Please note that if you have re-mortgaged (or raised capital as the lenders call it), SMI will only be paid on the original amount.

Homeowner mortgage support scheme

Homeowner mortgage support scheme is a scheme which will defer interest payments for up to two years and is applicable to those who suffer a significant loss of income due to job loss or loss of overtime. The valuation of the mortgage cannot exceed £400,000 and savings have to be less than £16,000. The aim of the scheme is to prevent repossession and put your mortgage on hold until you are back in employment or you income has increased. The due interest payments are added up and tacked onto the outstanding mortgage to pay when you can afford it. Therefore, there will be more to pay later. It is possible the mortgage term will be extended to help, so the total amount of interest repaid over the mortgage lifetime will increase. As the scheme is run by the banks, it’s likely the deferral of interest will be recorded on your credit files and could affect your credit rating. Contact your lender to see if they offer this scheme.

Repossession prevention fund

The repossession prevention fund provides a one off interest-free loan to homeowners who are at risk of losing their home because of a temporary setback e.g. losing their job. The loan is available to the elderly, disabled and families with young children who must obtain debt advice first. The maximum loan available is £5,000.

You also need to look at all your expenditure and make sure you are getting all the benefits you should receive. Give priority to those payments where non-payment has the most serious consequence, particularly mortgage payments and loans that are secured against your home (which may mean you losing your home) or utilities bills that may lead to you being cut off. You should also contact those you have non-priority debts with to see if you can reduce your instalments. 

Our Money Advice Team offer a service for our customers who are struggling with rent and/or council tax payments, or repaying overpaid housing benefit. They can negotiate repayment rates and offer debt and budgeting advice, as well as carrying out benefit checks.

If you are having problems with paying your council tax please contact us.

Email: council.tax@eastriding.gov.uk
Telephone: (01482) 394747

You may be eligible for a reduction in your council tax if you are on a low income, and can apply for council tax benefit online (opens in new window).

If after trying everything, repossession is inevitable, consider trying to sell the home yourself, you may get a higher price. Your lender must try to get the best price it can, but as lenders often sell properties at auction, this may result in a lower price than would fetch on the open market.

Whatever you do, don't hand in the keys to the mortgage lender unless you have sold the property as you are still responsible for mortgage payments and buildings insurance until the property is sold.

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My home is being repossessed, what can I do?

The length of time before repossession proceedings start is dependent on the lender but the onus is on the lender to prove that they have done everything possible before taking action against you.

If your lender does start to take repossession proceedings against you, you must seek legal advice as soon as possible. You will be eligible for assistance with advice and information from your local community legal aid provider. You can get more information on legal aid from the direct gov website.

Direct Gov (external website)

You can also find out more information about housing repossession and court procedures from the the direct gov mortgage help section and HM courts service.

Direct Gov - mortgage help (external website)

HM Courts Service (external website)

If you are living in the East Riding, your repossession hearing will be held at one the local courts and the address of the actual court will be on your warrant for eviction. All courts provide either a court desk for advice and information regarding the repossession process, or a referral to an agency. There will also be a court officer who can point you in the direction of a duty housing solicitor.

  • For the Bridlington and Driffield area - housing advice resource project (HARP) run a court desk for the Scarborough Court - telephone: (01723) 350755
  • In the Beverley area - Hull legal aid centre - telephone: (01482) 317420
  • In Goole and Howdenshire – Goole CAB - telephone: (01405) 762054

Community legal advice can advise you at any stage of possession, up to eviction. If you have been taken to court before for repossession you will still be able to access this service.

Mortgage lenders have to follow a specific procedure (pre-action protocol) before they can take you to court. This sets out a number of steps they should take before they consider court action. Lenders will send you a notice at least 14 days before the court hearing to confirm the possession proceedings have started. Always go to the hearing unless your advisor tells you not to. If you do not, the judge will have no option other than to award possession to the lender. At the hearing, a judge considers your lender’s claim and any offers you have made to deal with the arrears.

The judgement could be:

  • to postpone (adjourn) the case – maybe to give you extra time to pay the arrears over a reasonable period
  • dismiss the case – usually where the arrears have been paid
  • give a suspended possession order – which is a possession order, but if you keep to an arrangement to pay off the arrears, you will not have to leave your home. If you break this order, the lender can evict you. If you are awarded a suspended possession order you can ask the judge to order that you can’t be evicted without another court hearing, but if the judge refuses, then you can be evicted without another hearing
  • if an outright possession order is granted, this would mean you need to leave the property by a given date

If possession has been awarded to the lender you can still do something. You can ask for it to be set aside if you had a good reason for not attending the hearing. You can also ask for the possession order to be varied or suspended. You need to visit the court where the repossession was held and ask for an application for Suspension of Warrant, though you will have to show there has been a change in your circumstances e.g. a new job or cleared a large part of the arrears to support your application. This will also involve a cost.

If you have tried all of the above, the lender successfully repossesses your home and you have nowhere to live, you should contact your nearest customer service centre and arrange to make an appointment to see a housing officer. Your claim for homelessness will then be investigated and a decision made. We will look to see if you are eligible for assistance, are homeless within 28 days, have a priority need (e.g. do you have dependents aged under 16 years of age living with you), have a local connection to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council area, and if any of your actions have resulted in you losing your home.

If the authority does accept a duty to re-house you, you may be placed into temporary accommodation before you receive your one offer of permanent accommodation. If you refuse this offer of permanent accommodation, then we will no longer have a duty towards re-housing you, though you may be eligible for assistance with a bond to access private rented accommodation.

Remember that you are still liable for mortgage payments until the property is sold. You will also have to make up any shortfall if the sale does not make enough to cover what you owe the lender. As this is no longer a ‘priority debt’, the bank cannot take your possessions in its place, however, they can pursue you for the shortfall for up to twelve years, and 6 years for any interest.

If your property is repossessed and you have to find alternative accommodation, advice and assistance is available through our pages on renting from the council, renting from a housing association and renting from a private landlord.

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