This is real life !
Last week I found myself questioning what I am doing this work for, for the the very first time, why you might ask am I questioning myself.
A neighbour who I now know had been going through some struggles had slowly started to get withdrawn. Not engaging with other neighbours and after a while not leaving her home even to get shopping. I used to knock at her door to check in on her from time to time and after awhile she no longer opened the door. I thought perhaps she had gone away.
I even left a note with my number for her to contact me.
Last week my daughter called me at work to tell me that a car has pulled up outside her house, and two males and a female were now approaching the door they began banging her door loudly and shouting through the letter box. Initially I informed my daughter that if they were debt collectors they could not enter the property unless she allowed them access so they would leave eventually.
Ten minutes later I get another call she is upset telling me that the men are now attempting to remove the front door and it was clear now that they have a locksmith there also. I tell my daughter that this is clearly a re-possession of her home and the two males and females are clearly court bailiffs. The neighbour appears to then barricade herself inside the property I can only imagine how she must have felt fear mortified that her life is being played out for the whole world to see, in her eyes.
Concerned neighbours approach her home and begin speaking to her in the hope that they can entice her out and to attempt to speak to the Bailiffs. It becomes very clear that the bailiffs are not leaving, and they are going to do their job and do not intend to leave until it is completed. The police now turn up with an ambulance in tow…….
What surprised me is that although I knew this neighbour, I knew nothing about what she was going through. She had family, but I did note that she was not receiving visitors recently, and it made me ask is there something I could have done to help.
What I came to realise is, that your best friend/family member could be facing eviction and you could have no idea.
Please keep an eye out for family members and look for signs especially if they become withdrawn, check in on them regularly even if they are not reaching out to you.
The outcome for this lady could have been so different, the house is boarded up now and secured and whilst the bailiffs have completed their job and the creditor will be re-paid for me this was someone’s home and this was someone’s life. I ask myself what will become of her and hope and pray that she receives the support and help to get her back on her feet.
This could be anyone of us I would like to think if this was happening to me that someone who knew me well enough would see the signs and intervene, so I could receive the support that I needed.
It is so important for people share knowledge and enable people to be aware of all the help and support that if our there I now don’t question why I do what I do I now know why I do what I do!
If you find yourself or anyone in this situation please don’t ignore the situation the outcome if ignored can be terrifying seek help first and foremost, if you are frightened to speak to the Mortgage company or creditor seek independent advice
Below I have listed the rules that a Building Society/Bank has to follow before they can begin action to re-possess your home from you.
Rules mortgage lenders must follow before they can take action against you.
Before taking you to court to repossess your home, your mortgage lender must follow what is called pre-action protocol rules.
Pre-action protocol rules
Your lender can take you to court to repossess your home if you have mortgage arrears.
To do this, your lender must follow pre-action protocol rules. This means your lender should only take court action as a last resort and after all other options have failed.
• Rules about lenders’ duties before court action
• Your lender must treat you fairly.
• They must consider any reasonable suggestions you make to pay off your arrears.
Before taking any steps to repossess your home, your lender must try to discuss your finances with you and give you a reasonable chance to pay the arrears.
They must also send you one of these leaflets offering advice on what action you can take to keep your home:
• National Homelessness Advice Service (NHAS) booklet on mortgage arrears
• Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) information sheet on arrears
• FCA information sheet on default
Your lender must give also you the following details:
• your payments over the past two years
• your monthly instalments
• the amount of your arrears
• how much is left to pay on your mortgage
• the interest or charges that will be added
Your lender must communicate with you in a straight forward way so that’s clear and easy to understand.
Rules that apply to borrowers
Some pre-action protocol rules also apply to borrowers.
If the case goes to court, you must be able to show that you:
• kept in touch with your lender and that you acted responsibly, for example by responding to phone calls and letters from your lender
• explored all available options for paying off arrears
• tried to talk to your lender to come to an arrangement
Proposals for dealing with mortgage arrears
Your mortgage lender must consider any proposals you make for repaying your mortgage arrears.
If your lender doesn’t accept your offers, they must write to you within 10 working days to explain why.
Your lender must also look at any other reasonable suggestions for keeping your home. Your lender’s proposals for clearing your arrears should be easy to understand. You should be given a reasonable amount of time to consider their proposals.
Keep to any agreement you make with your lender. If you don’t your lender can give you 15 working days’ notice, then take you to court.
When your lender should delay court action
The pre-action protocol says your lender shouldn’t start court action if you are likely to get a payment after you have:
• made a claim under a mortgage payment protection policy
• applied for support for mortgage interest (SMI) from the government you must be able to show your lender that you can pay what you owe for any period not covered by your claims and cover any shortfall.
Your lender should delay court action if:
• you’re getting help from your local council under a mortgage rescue or homeless prevention scheme
• your income is about to improve enough for you to pay your mortgage, for example you’ve been offered a better paid job or you’re taking in a lodger
• you’ve made a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) about how your lender dealt with your arrears
• you are taking steps to sell your home at a realistic price
If your lender agrees a delay while you sell your home
You can ask your lender to delay repossession while you try to sell your home.
If your lender agrees to delay court action, you must:
• give them details of any offers you get
• show them the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for your home or proof that you’ve arranged for the property to be assessed
You should give your estate agent and solicitor permission to contact your lender directly about the progress of any sale.
If you have tenants
The pre-action protocol doesn’t cover buy-to-let mortgages.
Your lender should check if you have tenants. Your tenants might have the right to stay even if your home is repossessed.
If your lender doesn’t follow the rules
If your lender doesn’t follow pre-action protocol rules, the court could:
• delay the repossession court hearing to give you time to negotiate with your lender
• order the lender to pay your legal costs
• stop your lender from adding their costs on to what you already owe them
Get legal advice before the court hearing if you think your lender hasn’t followed the pre-action protocol rules asap.