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November 13, 2009    

Minister to consult on legal move to halt repossession

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by Gill Montia

Courts Minister Bridget Prentice has announced that the Government intends to publish a consultation by the end of the year on tightening up the law so that no lender can sell the home a borrower lives in against their wishes, without first going through the court process.

The consultation follows a particular case in 2008, Horsham Properties Limited v Clark and Beech, which raised concerns that the homes of ordinary borrowers might be sold without a court order.

The case involved mortgage borrowers in arrears having an action of trespass brought against them.

In related news, new figures from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) show the number of mortgage possession claims falling by 7% in the three months to October, to 24,337, compared to the previous quarter (26,213).

The figure also represents a 37% drop on a year earlier, after which the Government’s Mortgage Pre-Action Protocol made clear to lenders that applying for repossession should be a last resort.

The MoJ also reminds homeowners who are struggling financially that the Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme enables eligible borrowers to reduce their monthly mortgage interest payments to affordable levels for up to two years, if they suffer a temporary loss of income.

In addition, the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme means that duty legal advisers are available on the day to advise anyone, regardless of income, who has a repossession hearing listed.

Yesterday, the Council of Mortgage Lenders said it was reducing its forecast for repossession in 2009 to 48,000.

The estimate is substantially down on earlier forecasts of 75,000 in 2008 and 65,000 in June of this year, and the body says the improvement reflects “lender forbearance, government measures and the beneficial effect of continuing low interest rates”.

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Tags: , Courts Minister, Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme, Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme, ,