Page last updated at 18:03 GMT, Thursday, 11 February 2010

MSPs back repossession protection

From Democracy Live: Homeowner and debtor protection debate

MSPs have backed a change in the law which will make it more difficult for homes to be repossessed in Scotland.

Under the plans, which gained cross-party support, lenders will have to wait longer to seize properties.

They will also have to show they have taken reasonable steps to avoid seizing private properties, including agreeing future repayments.

Residents will also have the right to have their cases heard in court before their homes can be repossessed.

For those facing insolvency, the Home Owner and Debtor Protection Bill gives the courts more powers to stop the family home being sold to clear off debts for up three years.

'Debt solutions'

Banks and building societies repossessed 48,000 homes in the UK last year, according to estimates by mortgage chiefs.

Graeme Brown, director of housing charity Shelter Scotland, said: "The Scottish government's action to bring forward these additional protections for homeowners is timely, particularly amid the current financial climate, and Scotland's flagship commitment to give everyone the right to a home by 2012."

But the Council of Mortgage Lenders has warned that by delaying repossessions, it may become more difficult for Scots to borrow in the future.

Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil said the new legislation was aimed at aiding those families who found themselves caught in a "debt trap".

He added: "Our response, embodied in this bill, has been to act quickly to introduce more protection for homeowners and to offer support to those people who currently cannot access debt solutions.

"Finally, they are protected with the full weight of the law. In implementing the provisions in the bill, we will continue in the spirit of co-operation that has been a feature of discussions among all political parties in the chamber."

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