Tenants whose landlords are in mortgage arrears

If you’re a tenant whose landlord hasn’t been paying the mortgage and is in mortgage arrears, you may be facing eviction because the landlord’s mortgage lender has instigated repossession proceedings.

You may have a right to remain in the property if your tenancy is binding on the mortgage lender. This may be the case if:

  • the landlord’s lender agreed to the tenancy;
  • you were residing in the property when your landlord’s mortgage was approved;
  • the lender has recognised your tenancy in some manner, for example, by requiring you to pay them rent.

Delaying repossession

If your tenancy is not binding on the lender, you may still be able to delay repossession of the property for up to two months which at least gives you some time to find somewhere else to live.

This delay can be achieved in two different ways:

  • Applying to the court to join in the possession proceedings brought by the lender before the hearing takes place for a possession order. Such an order allows the lender to take possession of your home and require you to leave by a certain date. At the hearing, the judge may agree to postpone the date by which you have to leave. You’ll have to pay a fee to make such an application to the court but this may be waived or reduced if you’re on a low income.
  • If you didn’t apply to the court when the possession order was made, you can seek a delay when the mortgage lender is applying for a warrant of possession. The warrant of possession gives the court bailiff the authority to evict you from your home. The lender has to send a notice to your home saying it is applying for a warrant (a notice of execution of the possession order) before you can be evicted. At this point, you can ask the lender to delay repossession for up to two months. If the lender refuses or does not respond, you can apply to the court. But you need to act fast as the court can issue a warrant of possession after 14 days have passed from the date on the notice the lender sent to your home. There is a fee for this procedure but again you may be able to get this waived or reduced.

If you do manage to get repossession delayed you may need to pay rent while you still live there. Repossession can be only be delayed by up to two months and you can only apply once for a delay to be made.

Repossession

If court action has been started against your landlord, the lender should send a letter to the property addressed to the tenant or occupier informing you about the court hearing before it starts. Sometimes, however, you may not know what’s going on until the court sends a notice to your home with details of the date on which the bailiffs will take possession of the property.
You will have to vacate the property by the date stated on the notice. The lender has the authority to change the locks if you don’t. If you can’t get access the property after the locks have been changed, you should contact the bailiffs or the lender to arrange for you to enter the property to collect your belongings.

Do you have a right to buy?

You might expect that as a tenant in the property, you may be given the option of buying it when the landlord’s mortgage runs into trouble, but this is not the case. If the lender has repossessed the property, they must put it on the housing market and take the best price they can get for it. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from buying it at this stage, but you will have to compete with other buyers, as with a normal sale, therefore nothing is guaranteed.

Other avenues of redress

You may wish to take the landlord to court to seek compensation for the loss of your tenancy, any storage costs and emergency accommodation. Again you need to act quickly so you can get compensation from the proceeds of the sale of the house; however this will depend on whether there is any money left from the sale of the property when the mortgage is repaid.