After your possession hearing

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

At the end of your court hearing, the judge will:

  • make an outright possession order - this gives your lender permission to repossess your property

  • make a suspended possession order - you’ll be able to stay in your home as long as you keep to an arrangement to pay off the arrears

  • adjourn the hearing - this means pause it, usually until a later date

  • dismiss your case - this is very unusual

The judge might also make a money judgment at the same time as a possession order. This allows your lender to get back all the money owed on your mortgage without having to take you to court again.

You might be able to appeal a possession order or get it changed.

If you haven’t been to your hearing yet, you can find out more about the court process.

If you’re at higher risk from coronavirus

You should tell your mortgage lender you’re at higher risk of getting ill. This is because:

  • if they're trying to repossess your home, they might pause your case

  • if you’re due to be evicted, they might pause your eviction

If your lender agrees to pause your eviction, tell the court and the bailiffs straight away. You can find their contact details on the notice of eviction. They’ll arrange another time to evict you - they have to give you 7 days’ notice.

If you get an outright possession order

You’ll have to leave by the date given in the order.

Find out more about eviction for mortgage arrears.

If you can afford to repay your arrears

You can apply to the court for the order to be suspended. This means you could stay in your home as long as you pay your arrears. To do this, you’ll need to fill in form N244. You can get a form from the court or download the N244 form on GOV.UK.

If your offer is acceptable, the court will make a suspended possession order.

If you get a suspended possession order

You’ll need to pay off the arrears at a fixed amount each week or month on top of your normal mortgage payment. The terms of the arrangement will be set out in the order. 

If you don't follow the arrangement, your lender can apply to the court to evict you. If the court agrees, you’ll get an eviction notice 14 days before the eviction date. Find out more about eviction for mortgage arrears.

In some cases, the judge will issue a suspended possession order to give you time to sell your home. They’ll only do this if you can make enough from the sale to clear the whole mortgage debt. This includes all the money you borrowed as well as your arrears. Find out more about selling your property to clear mortgage debts.

If you’re paying too much

If the court has made a suspended possession order, you can apply to change the terms of the order. This is called ‘varying’ the terms. 

You might want to vary the terms if, for example:

  • you can no longer afford to keep up your payments 

  • the sale of your property is taking longer than the court has allowed

You can apply to vary the terms of the order using form N244. You can download the N244 form on GOV.UK or get one from the court.

There will be another court hearing. You should attend the hearing with evidence to support your application. Find out more about possession hearings.

If the judge makes a money judgment

If your lender evicts you and isn't able to get back all the money you owe from selling the property, they can force you to pay the difference. They won't need to go to court again to do this.

If the possession order is suspended, the money judgment will usually be suspended as well. This means it will only be enforced if you don't keep to the terms of the suspended possession order and your lender is allowed to evict you.

If the judge adjourns your case

If the judge decides to make an 'adjournment' it means they're postponing the hearing - they'll usually give you a new date.

The judge might adjourn your case if:

  • you or your money lender need more time to provide more information

  • you need more time to make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service

  • your lender doesn't turn up at the hearing

  • you haven't been able to get legal advice - for example, if you were in hospital

  • moving out of your home would cause serious problems because of your health

You might have to pay more costs if your case is adjourned.

If you pay off all your arrears before the hearing

The judge might make a 'general adjournment'. This means there's no date set for another hearing, but one can be arranged if you fall into arrears again. 

If this happens, your lender can restart proceedings from where they left off - they don't have to start from the beginning.

If you didn’t go to the hearing

You might be able to apply to ‘set aside’ a possession order. This means the order would be cancelled and you’d have another hearing. You might be able to do this if both of the following apply:

  • you can show you had a good reason for not attending the hearing - for example, if you were sick and have a note from your doctor 

  • you have a defence against the claim 

If you want to apply to set aside the order, you should get expert legal advice as soon as possible. You can find a solicitor on the Law Society’s website.

Appealing a possession order

If you think the judge was wrong to make a possession order, you might be able to appeal to a higher court. If you appeal, the court might decide to cancel the possession order - or they might dismiss your case. If they cancel the possession order, there’ll be another hearing. 

If the judge also made a money judgment, you can appeal this at the same time.

You might be able to appeal if you think:

  • your mortgage lender didn’t follow the correct procedures 

  • the judge got the law wrong

  • the judge has based their decision on something they’ve misunderstood 

It's best to appeal within 21 days of the court decision. After 21 days you can still appeal, but you'll need to apply for permission first. 

If you think you have reasons to appeal, you should get expert legal advice. You can find a solicitor on the Law Society’s website.

Paying court costs

You’ll usually have to pay court costs. Your mortgage lender will add the costs to your mortgage account, and you’ll have to pay them along with your arrears. 

If you appeal a possession order you'll have to pay extra costs. These can include:

  • a fee to apply

  • court fees - including if you’re successful and need to have another hearing

  • solicitor's and barrister's fees and expenses - for both sides

  • expenses for anyone who came to give evidence

The judge might order that some or all of the lender’s costs aren’t added. They might do this if they think the costs are unreasonable or that your lender has behaved unreasonably in starting possession proceedings. For example, if your lender didn’t give you enough time to negotiate with them. 

You might be able to get legal aid to help you pay for this - for example if you're on a low income or get benefits. Check if you can get legal aid on GOV.UK.

If your case is dismissed

You should ask the judge to make an order that your mortgage lender should pay the court costs. You’ll still need to pay off your arrears.

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Page last reviewed on 13 June 2023