Giving up the battle

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I've been fighting a losing battle to hold onto my house. Substantial negative equity (probably since the day I bought it from my ex partner) #9000 arrears and ill health have conspired to make me consider not fighting the latest repossession attempt by the Brittannia. Long history of poor judgement and bad luck, that I will not bore you with now-the most recent being a series of heart attacks two year ago that left me unemployed, on housing benefit and income support. I have to say that Brittannia did not act too badly at the time but now as I recover and start to work (for myself) again they are taking me to court for possession (they obtained an order some time agoat least four years) on the ground that my repayments are consistently late. This is true, due to the nature of my work I have not been able to pay before the 10th of the month but I have been religiously paying every month for some time by at least the 10th. I get the feeling that because of this they now believe it worth their while to stuff me. The summons has yet to arrive but when I telephoned their in-house lawyers and the credit-chasing department both told me that they would not stop the action. I am considering sending the keys back at the last moment to prevent a formal repossesion. Several questions: 1) How long does a court order for repossession remain effective if the lender does not apply it? Do they have to start all over again. 2) When is the last moment to hand in the keys to avoid repossession. 3) If they lent me far more than the property was worth without a careful enough survey, arent they as stupid (and culpable) as me. For your information (and no doubt amusement) I am male, sixty, just married with a six month old baby.....not that the building society will take that into account. Oh, and I do now have somewhere else to live and I'm getting to the position of having something to lose as my business takes off. Any, more general, advice

-- Mike Barton (mikebartonuk@hotmail.com), October 13, 2000

Answers

It is with sadness that I read your post, particularly that it was posted so long ago and did not receive an answer. I suspect for you it is too late but I reply for the benefit of any others finding themselves in a similar situation.

You would have had a suspended possession order. I believe the precise terms can vary but when a friend of mine was in a similar situation she was told that as long as she kept up the new arrangement under the order she would be OK and the possession order would expire when the arrears were cleared. However when she returned to full time employment she found that she could not meet the interest and the capital repayments, as well as the overpayment at the ridiculously high level that the building society had requested so she fell behind. They then got the court bailiffs to send a letter saying that the bailiffs will come to repossess on a particular date and inforce the possession order as she had not kept to its terms. On this letter there was a telephone number of the court bailiffs. She rang it and forced the building society to go to court. At court the judge made them agree to much lower payments and she was allowed to stay in her house. Eventually she paid off the arrears and the possession order is now finally lifted.

Thus at the time you wrote the above it was NOT too late to stop repossession. The court would listen to any reasonable suggestion. The fact that you might have been able to find somewhere else to live is not material and perhaps need not have been volunteered, as the court is unlikely to ask you such a question. After all if you have bought a house then, presumably it is all you have to live in. If a friend decides to take you in then that is out of the goodness of their heart and not your right!

I would further say under no circumstances should you go for voluntary or involuntary possession, there is little difference in reality. Go to court - make them give you repayments you can keep to and keep to them. Courts are not usually in the business of throwing families on the streets for no good reason. And since under shortfall rules you are liable to pay up to 12 years from repossession what is the point of losing your home and your credit worthiness if you have to pay in the end. Sorry for rambling - it makes me mad to hear about people in your situation!!

-- jude (jude.adegbe@lineone.net), July 22, 2001.


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