Mortgage Arrears Pre-action Protocol

Overview

Since the 6th April 2015 there has been a new pre-action protocol, which sets out the procedures you and your lender must follow before the lender takes any court action.

What you must do

You are expected to keep in touch with your lender, act fairly and reasonably with your lender and take steps to try and negotiate payment of your arrears.

What your lender must do

Under the protocol, your lender must provide you with information about your legal rights if you miss any payments. In addition they must do the following:

  • tell you what the total amount of your arrears is
  • Inform you as to how much is still left to pay on your mortgage or home purchase plan, and whether interest or charges have been, or will be added
  • where appropriate, provide you with the details or an estimate of the interest or charges that may be payable on your mortgage or home purchase plan
  • give you information on the current monthly instalments and the amount you have paid for the last 2 years
  • where appropriate, provide you with the required regulatory information sheet or the National Homelessness Advice Service/Shelter/Cymru booklet on mortgage arrears
  • seek information about whether the property is occupied by an authorised tenant
  • discuss with you or your personal representative the cause of the arrears, your financial circumstances and proposals for repayment
  • advise you to make early contact with the local housing authority, and where appropriate, refer you to independent debt advice
  • allow you a reasonable period of time to consider a proposal for payment made by them (also giving you enough detail for you to understand how it works and how it will affect you)
  • Your lender has to consider any reasonable request from you to change when or how you pay

An N123 Mortgage pre-action protocol checklist is available here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/688422/n123-eng.pdf

The legislation is available here:

https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/protocol/prot_mha

If you make an offer to repay your mortgage arrears, your mortgage lender must get back to you quickly with an answer. If the offer is refused, they must let you know why it has been refused, in writing, within 10 business days of the offer being made. Your lender should not start any court action against you while you are trying to come to an agreement.

If you are able to negotiate and make an agreement to repay the arrears but don't keep to it, your mortgage lender will start court action. However they should tell you in writing that they plan to do this at least 15 working days’ in advance.

It is essential not to ignore any letters from your lender or their solicitors. You should seek help and advice from a local advice agency or specialist if required.