My mortgage lender is taking me to court, how can I prepare?

Summary: This article provides information on how to prepare for the court hearing, and what information should be taken.

When an individual is unable to make a mortgage repayment, they will fall into arrears. When this happens, the mortgage lender may try to take court action to get what is known as a possession order, which could result in the individual losing their home.

How should I prepare for the court date?

Mortgage lenders are governed by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and as such, they must be fair and give the individual ample opportunity to repay the arrears. Therefore it is vital to contact the lender as soon as there may be a problem in order to seek a resolution. It is also important to maintain repayments, even if it is a partial repayment, as this shows willingness on behalf of the debtor. The mortgage lender is obliged to provide written notice of their intent to take court action (known as a claim for Possession of property), and will usually provide 4 - 8 weeks’ notice of the hearing date. At this stage, a defence form should be completed, which asks for a breakdown of the individual’s financial information, as well as what action may have been taken to deal with the arrears. This will be reviewed by the judge when making a decision on the case.

What information should I take with me to the court?

As much information about personal finances should be gathered as possible in order to prove that any offer made can be honoured. It is also important to take copies of any correspondence with the mortgage lender, specifically any details of potential offers made to resolve the situation. Assuming the individual has maintained at least some repayments, evidence of this should be provided, as well as any evidence of monies owed under a mortgage protection scheme, or monies applied for through government funded schemes, such as Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI). If the individual is selling the property to repay the arrears, details of their estate agent should also be provided.