re northern rock shortfall

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in 1996 myself and then partner purchased a house for 50,000 with mortgage from northern rock.in 1998 my now ex partner (joint mortgagee) was arrested on attempted murder charges of myself and daughter, he was subject to a criminal trial and obviously i then had injuction served on him.with three children to support my business suffered and i fell into arrears, after constantly keeping the northern rock informed i put the house on the market for 65,000 as it had been extended. and out of three valuations this was the lowest one for a quick sale. my ex tried to stop me selling as he hadnt given his permission, as he wasnt contributing to the mortgage nor working at the time, i asked the court to force him to sell. they did but it delayed it by 3 months, i changed my estate agents who marketed it for 56,000 sadly this all took too long and the northern rock said they would repossess if i could not pay. i spoke to a lady in the arrears dept. who told me not to worry if they repossessed my house as it would be marketed at full value for first few months and as full value was 15,000 more than i owed and it was is very sought after area i would be left with no shortfall. how wrong, i handed my keys back in september before the repossession in oct.and gave them a forwarding address. to my suprise in oct a notice was put in the local paper saying it was a two bedroomed terrace, it was in fact a 4 bedroom cottage with extensive open aspects, this was not mentioned, and asked for offers over 38,000 the week after a notice went in same paper saying an offer of 37,000 had been accepted!! i tried to get on with my life and as the impending crown court trial was looming tried to forget about it, until january this year, when i recieved a threatening letter from a solicitors claiming i owed them nearly 13,000.. i sent back the statement of earnings form unwittingly! offering them 50 a month this i paid for 4 months, then i wrote to them stating that i thought the northern rock did not act in my best interest to obtain best price, there were also rumours that they sold to a builder relative of the estate agents who dealt with the sale. isnt that illegal? i have tried to find a solicitor to deal with my shortfall but to no avail. i do not want to go bankcrupt, i wrote giving all info i could on whereabouts of my ex, as he escaped jail on a technicality, and shirked all his responsibilities and was in a better position to pay. they said that i was obligated to pay full amount. i felt totally intimidated up until finding this site today, i recieved a letter saying they are applying to make me bankrupt as i have stopped paying. the problem is i dont know where to start. any advice from people who have done this would be appreciated, the only good thing is that ive just realised how many people are in the same situation as me and im not a leper!!

-- michelle cardno (m.cardno@virgin.net), October 21, 2002

Answers

If you've not done so already, then read through the other postings and the information provided on this website. You'll soon realise that it is common practice that repossessed properties are sold for far less than they are worth.

You've got proof of the misselling from the advert in the paper. I hope that you kept it. If not, then get in touch with your local paper and get a copy - failing that your local town archives will probably have copies.

A person cannot be made bankrupt unless it is proved that you actually owe the money. These threats are usually made by solicitors who are banking on the ignorance of the person owing the money. Because you handed in the keys to your home, there wasn't a court hearing and as such there is no money judgement order. It is this order - confirming how much you owe which can then lead to bankruptcy proceedings.

The property was in joint names and so you and your ex are both liable for any shortfall and you should insist that the lender also contact your ex.

Solicitors are very persuasive with their threats, but do remember that they cannot force you to do anything, they're just very good at making you think that you have to do what they say. Write back to them and ask for a copy of the money judgement order - if there isn't one they can't bankrupt you and if you do find out that you were sued without your knowledge, then you can apply to have it set aside.

Ask the solicitors and keep asking them why the property was missold, they will have to go back to Northern Rock for the answers, so there'll be a delay. You also want to see a completion statement and a full breakdown of the charges making up the alleged debt. Again, look at this website for sample letters. Until Northern Rock's claim is fully justified, with invoices and receipts from third parties involved, then you do not admit liability for any of the debt.

I don't know if its illegal for a relative of an estate agent to purchase a property but if you think that there has been any dodgy dealing then you can get details of who owns a property from the Land Registry for your area. Check out the LR website for details. If you can make a connection between the owner and the estate agent or get other proof of a family connection, then you can if you wish start asking questions, but at the end of the day, the lender allowed the property to go for far less than it was worth.

Try your local CAB for legal advice and they'll be able to put you onto a solicitor best able to deal with your case. If there really isn't anyone in your area, then look to the next biggest town near you. There are lots of solicitors online and many of them deal with clients out of their local area, there will be someone who can help you.

-- pendle (pendle_666@yahoo.co.uk), October 21, 2002.


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