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Have Your Say: repossession

Pigeons in the window of an empty house
Nobody here but us pigeons. Should repossession only be a last resort?

Mortgage arrears are on the rise, but the courts may be too hasty to give lenders the right to sell people's homes and turf them out, according to the Financial Services Consumer panel, which advises the Financial Services Authority.

They say homeowners are finding they may be evicted because lawyers are not aware of the FSA's rules surrounding repossessions.

Perhaps you have been to court following a repossession order, or even had your home repossessed.

Were you advised about all of your options or did you feel pressurised?

What has your experience been of dealing with lenders seeking to repossess a property?

We asked for your comments - a selection of which are below - the debate is now closed.

It seems to be a sign of the times that individuals are unwilling to take responsibility for their actions - buying a house is a risky thing to do. It is also not a God given right to own a house. If you cannot afford to take the risk why not rent like most of continental Europe? If individuals want the opportunity to make big profits from house price inflation then they had better realise that there are risks attached to the deal too. The only complaint that people can have is a lack of financial education - that is another topic - but don't expect the banks to bail you out because you choose to take risks.
Paul Ogden, London

The lender should be required to provide independent advice for the borrower
Celia Burgess, Lymington Hampshire
I was a CAB Manager for 16 years including the 1990s when many homes were repossessed. Most people don't understand the legal process and don't think they can influence the court decision. Judges don't like making people homeless and as long as people can make the agreed loan repayments, the time taken to repay the capital can be adjusted. All it takes is a realistic and acceptable income and expenditure statement and an explanation to the judge - not something people can do without practice, but not difficult to learn and once learned, never forgotten. Don't be so silly as to say "It is up to the defendant's lawyer to make the relevant points to the judge." If the defendant can afford a solicitor s/he will be halfway there. There is no legal aid for anyone earning more than basic benefits and most people cannot hope to retain a solicitor. The lender should be required to provide independent advice for the borrower (CAB and other advice services could do so relatively cheaply) without which the judge should refuse to grant repossession.
Celia Burgess, Lymington Hampshire

I have acted as a lawyer in scores of repossession cases. The reason that these FSA rules are not argued in court is that they do not have precedence over the relevant statutes (The Administration of Justice Acts 1970 and 1973). The lender becomes entitled to possession once the arrears total two months. Lenders are not obliged to negotiate with the borrowers. It is worth remembering that many possession orders are suspended by the courts. Unconditional possession orders are usually only ever obtained where the Defendant does not attend court (which, amazingly, often happens). Where I do have sympathy with borrowers is with the difficulty in obtaining legal aid. Where Defendants are represented I have never heard them argue that the lender has breached these FSA rules. I would be amazed if that were because CAB and the like were unaware of them. There are no parallel systems of law. The FSA is as much use a wet paper bag as the Northern Rock saga shows.
Nicholas Bryars, Leicester

The whole thing is biased on the side of the people with the most money
Peter Jay, Daventry
In your programme you mentioned the idea that lawyers on either side should be aware of the FSA guidelines. The plain fact is that people who have defaulted on their mortgage payments will, almost by definition, not have any money to hire lawyers. The unsuspecting individuals in this situation can end up being railroaded into situations without knowing their rights. The CAB is quite often a great help but they are not qualified lawyers. They are very good at being articulate on behalf of the borrower but may not be as practiced at the legal arguments. In the recent proceedings that were brought against me I was left to defend myself against the mortgage company's legal representative who was very aggressive. I ended up with a "Deferred Possession Order" but only because I am not intimidated easily. The whole thing is biased on the side of the people with the most money i.e. the mortgage company.
Peter Jay, Daventry

Lenders have no responsibility for any risk incurred by loans. Reverse this and lenders will pay more attention to the ratio between value of property, amount loaned and ability to pay. This needs legislation. This would help to have realistically valued and priced properties. At present the borrower is obliged, most of the time, to pay the shortfall after the sale of a repossessed property. How fair is that? Lenders are laughing all the way to the bank, their lack of responsibility rewarded.
Michele Poole, Worcester

I must first say that I've never had a mortgage. I assume the when someone takes out a mortgage he/she signs an agreement/contract. Are the FSA's rules not mentioned on this? If so, shouldn't the Judge then take those rules into consideration? If the rules are not mentioned, then perhaps they should be.
Geoff Southcott, Southampton

The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.

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External internet links
22 Feb 08 |  Moneybox
Sub-prime drives UK repossessions
13 Feb 08 |  Business
Home repossessions rise to 27,000
08 Feb 08 |  Business
Warning over 'bullying' lenders
26 Nov 07 |  Moneybox
Concerns over repossession rents
02 Sep 07 |  Business

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