Tougher guidance to halt repossessions
Struggling homeowners who are facing repossession have been given stronger legal support.
Guidelines that come into effect today state that lenders must only use repossession as a last resort.
The Civil Justice Council has drawn up a protocol which encourages householders and lenders to settle problems before they go to court.
Gordon Brown announced the guidelines were coming out and ordered courts to make sure repossession was a last resort last month.
District Judge Robert Jordan chaired the justice council’s housing and land committee, which drafted the pre-action protocol.
He said: ‘I think everyone recognises that repossession cases are a cause of great anxiety to the householder, but clearly it is important that they communicate with their mortgage lender or they risk losing their home if they are defaulting on their payments.
‘This protocol should help by ensuring that people do talk to each other and to try to find a way forward thereby avoiding proceedings. Litigation must be seen as a last resort.’
The guildelines urge lenders and borrowers to communicate at an early stage and discuss issues, such as if the arrears are temporary or long term, and whether they are payable in a reasonable time.
The justice council has consulted stakeholders, regulators, government departments and the Civil Procedure Rules Committee to draw up the protocol.
Chair of the Civil Justice Council, the master of the rolls, Sir Anthony Clarke said: ‘I believe that providing the parties cooperate with each other, it will go a long way to help to resolve disputes between lenders and borrowers.’