Allowed to stay in your home
You may have been allowed to stay in your home after a repossession hearing. This may be because there wasn't a good enough reason to repossess the home or because the Master believed you should be allowed to stay to give you time to put the situation right.
- the Master needed more information to make a decision,
- you needed time to raise a lump sum to pay off all or some of your arrears,
- you were selling your home and needed time to complete the sale.
If you have mortgage arrears, you may have to pay a certain amount on top of your mortgage installment each monthas a condition of the case being adjourned. It is very important to stick to these conditions. If you don't, the Master is more likely to make a possession order when your case goes back to court. The Master should explain the conditions, and you should get written confirmation in the post when a copy of the order is posted to you. If it isn't clear, get advice.
Your case may have been adjourned indefinitely, also known as adjourned generally – this may happen if your arrears fall beneath a certain level. Your case may also be adjourned for a fixed period of time. In either situation, you have the right to stay in your home until a final decision is made or you pay off the money you owe. You may have been given a date for another hearing when the case was adjourned, or your lender may have to apply for a new hearing after a certain amount of time or if your circumstances change.
If you don't keep to the conditions of a suspended possession order, you can lose your home. For example, if you miss even one payment or you don't pay the full amount, your lender is entitled to reapply to the court to repossess your home, although it is possible that the lender will wait and see if several payments are missed before proceeding with the court case. If you think you are likely to have problems sticking to the conditions of a suspended possession order, you should contact your lender and/or an advice agency immediately. Don't put off dealing with the situation, as your lender may be able to repossess your home if you don't come to an agreement.
Even if the situation seems hopeless, an adviser may be able to help you find a solution. For example, if you have lost your job it may be possible to get the conditions of the order changed to make the repayments more manageable. If you want to change the conditions of an order, you will need to apply to the court and may have to pay a fee. Check with the NI Courts Service for the exact amount of this fee.
Avoiding payment problems in future
If you are worried that you can't afford your mortgage, you should get advice to stop your arrears from increasing. Don't ignore letters or phone calls from your lender. If you don't respond, your lender is much more likely to take you to court.
If you are having financial problems, contact a local advice agency. An adviser may be able to explain some of the options. For example, it may be possible to negotiate with your lender to reduce your monthly payments by extending the term of your mortgage or switching to a different repayment method.
Download the Mortgage Debt Advice Service Tips & Contact leaflet with information on dealing with mortgage arrears.