What Circumstances Can You Force a House Sale?

Estimated reading time 13 minutes

If you are facing the threat of a forced house sale you will no doubt, be extremely stressed and overwhelmed by the entire experience. But it is important to know that you do have options.

Your lender should always be your first point of contact in case of any financial hardship. By taking this proactive approach you can begin the necessary required steps to help prevent the need to sell your house fast and in turn provide relief from stress.

By taking this first step your lender may be able to offer assistance and provide a solution to your situation which will avoid a forced house sale. It is also advisable to seek legal advice if a resolution looks unlikely

What can trigger a forced house sale?

 Let’s look at the situations that could trigger a forced house sale:

  1. Failure to make mortgage payments: The most common reason for a forced house sale is a homeowner’s inability to make their mortgage payments. If payments are missed for an extended period of time, the lender may begin the process of repossessing the property.
  2. Unforeseen circumstances: Unexpected events such as a job loss, medical emergency, or divorce can make it difficult for homeowners to keep up with their mortgage payments.
  3. Negative equity: If the value of a property decreases and the homeowner owes more than the property is worth, they may be at risk of a forced house sale.
  4. Divorce or separation: In the case of a divorce or separation, the couple may be ordered by the court to sell the family home and split the proceeds.
  5. Inheritance disputes: If multiple heirs inherit a property and cannot agree on what to do with it, one or more of the parties may seek a court order to force a sale.
  6. Bankruptcy: If you become bankrupt, your assets may be sold off to pay your creditors, including your home.
  7. Defaulting on other debts: If a homeowner is behind on other debts, such as credit card payments or personal loans, creditor may apply for a charging order against your property, which would give them the right to force a sale.

What steps to take to stop a forced house sale?

  1. Contact your lender: If you’re having trouble making your mortgage payments, the first step is to reach out to your lender. They may be able to offer you a loan modification or a payment plan that can help you get back on track.
  2. Contact your trustee: if facing bankruptcy you may be able to negotiate with trustee a plan to offer to pay off your debts or make a payment plan to satisfy your creditors.
  3. Consider government programs: There are several UK government programs available to help homeowners avoid a forced house sale. For example, the Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) loans provide support for homeowners who qualify for an income-related benefit and are unable to meet their mortgage repayments, due to illness, unemployment, a personal crisis, or other income shock. Also check if you can get legal aid to help with your legal costs.
  4. Seek advice: If you’re struggling to prevent a house a forced house sale, you may want to seek advice from Citizens Advice, National Debtline, Shelter or your local council. Depending on the specific circumstance of your situation you may also want to take advice form qualified and reputable professionals such as a solicitor and/or mediator.  They will be able to provide you with advice, support and ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout.
  5. Consider alternative living arrangements: You may want to consider becoming a resident landlord and rent out part of the property to pay off the debt, or you may need to consider alternative living arrangements, such as renting out your house and moving in with friends or family.
  6. Divorce Settlement sale: You may be able to request a court order to delay or prevent the sale of the home. This may be appropriate if you can demonstrate that the sale would cause you or your children significant hardship. Explore financing options such as a remortgage or a home equity loan to buy out your spouse’s share of the property.
  7. Inheritance Disputes: You may be able to challenge the sale in court by seeking an injunction or other legal remedy if you can demonstrate that the sale would cause you significant hardship or that the sale is unjust or illegal. Find alternative financing in order to buy out the other parties involved in the inheritance dispute.
  8. Sell your property: If you’re unable to keep up with your mortgage payments, and you have decided to sell your property before you are forced to then consider selling your property to a cash house buyer.  A cash buyer like Gaffsy can help you sell your property quickly, for a fair price, even if you’re facing a forced house sale.

How are you protected against your mortgage lender taking you to court?

In the UK, the Mortgage Conduct of Business Rules states that your lender has a responsibility to treat you fairly and take into consideration any proposals you make to resolve payment problems and arrears and that a forced house sale should only be considered as a last resort, after all reasonable efforts for a solution have been exhausted.

Before a mortgage lender can force a house sale they must:

  • Tell you how much you owe: A list of missed payments, outstanding mortgage debt and the total amount of arrears and charges.
  • where appropriate, give you 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 amounts paid for the last 2 years.
  • Consider a request from you to change the way you pay your mortgage
  • Respond to any offer of payment you make
  • Give you reasons for turning down your offer of payment within 10 days
  • Give you a reasonable amount of time to consider any proposal they make
  • Give you 15 days’ written warning if they plan to start court action
  • Tell you the date and time of a forced house sale hearing
  • Let your council know within 5 days of getting notification of the date of the court hearing, in order that should you need to, you are able to apply to the council as homeless.

How to stop house a forced house sale

  1. You can offer to pay off your arrears each month along with your usual mortgage payments.
  2. You can propose combining your arrears with your mortgage – your lender might let you extend the term of your mortgage so your monthly payments don’t go up.
  3. You can suggest reducing or pausing your monthly mortgage payments especially if you anticipate an improvement in your financial circumstances.
  4. Suggest changing the mortgage type if it will reduce the amount to pay each month.
  5. If you own an endowment policy and want to cash it in or sell it for the property seek financial advice first to check this is a sensible solution.
  6. Notify your lender if you have applied for benefits universal credit, homelessness help, SMI or any other financial help like mortgage protection payments.
  7. If you believe the forced sale is unjust or illegal you may be able to make a formal complaint to the relevant regulatory body or ombudsman, seek legal advice.
  8. Request a court order if you can demonstrate that the sale would cause you or your family significant hardship.
  9. If there are other interested parties negotiate with them to see if you can find an alternative solution.
  10. Sell your house fast – if you decide you want to sell your house then it is worth considering selling your house quickly for a cash sum.  Gaffsy can make you an offer today and work on a timescale to suit you, with all legal fees included. As soon as the sale is completed the full cash amount will be paid into your bank account.

Even if your mortgage lender starts court proceedings it is still not too late to stop the forced house sale.

  1. You will need to make a monthly mortgage payment plan to show the judge, the plan needs to show you have enough income left over every month to pay a regular amount towards the arrears.
  2. Alternatively, if you decide the house is too expensive you can sell your home and providing you have accepted an offer on your home you can show the court evidence of the sale the judge may allow you time for the sale to go through.

Gaffsy says. ….Do always make sure your lender has done everything they are required to do under the FCA’s Mortgage conduct of Business rules to make the forced house sale a matter of last resort.  Mortgage lenders must also adhere to the Mortgage Pre-Action Protocol which sets out clear standards expected when lenders bring a forced house sale cases to court. If they have not adhered to these standards, you may be able to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Please note when entering a divorce dispute your ex and, in an inheritance dispute the other beneficiaries, can force the sale of the house by obtaining an order for sale from the courts. The courts can only approve an ‘order for sale’ application if it meets the requirements outlined in the 14th and 15th Section of the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.  So do seek legal advice if you find yourself involved in a property dispute.

Can I sell my home to pay mortgage debts?

Yes, you can sell your home to pay your mortgage debts and it will be a lot better than just handing back the keys.  If you hand back the keys and leave the property you will still be responsible for mortgage payments, buildings insurance and other costs until the property is sold and you will still have to make up the difference when the mortgage company sells the property if it doesn’t make enough to cover what you owe.

If you can’t find any other way of clearing your mortgage debts, it would be better for you to try and sell your property as this would give you a lump sum of money which you could use to pay off your mortgage. If you have enough left over, you might be able to use it to pay off any other debts and buy a more affordable home.

Understanding your options in a forced house sale

If you find yourself in a situation where a forced house sale seems inevitable, it’s crucial to understand all your options. The stress and complexity of these circumstances can be overwhelming, but knowing your rights and possibilities can provide some much-needed clarity and control.

It’s important to be aware of the legal protections and rights you have in the event of a forced house sale. In the UK, there are specific laws and regulations that lenders and other parties must follow. Understanding these can help you better navigate the situation and potentially find alternatives to selling your home.

Professional guidance

Seeking professional guidance is key. Financial advisors, legal experts, and housing counsellors can offer invaluable advice tailored to your unique situation. They can help you explore options you might not have considered, such as restructuring your mortgage, finding government assistance programs, or negotiating with creditors.

Forced house sale FAQs

Can I negotiate with my lender to avoid a forced house sale?


Yes, lenders are often open to negotiation. They may offer options like loan modification, refinancing, or a payment plan to help you catch up on missed payments.

What government programs are available to help me avoid a forced house sale?


Programs vary by region, the mortgage charter was established to help homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments, check to see if your lender has signed up. There is also the Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) program that offers loans to help homeowners facing specific financial challenges. The MoneyHelper website run by the government offers free guidance and is a good place to start.

Is selling my property to a cash house buyer a good option?


Selling to a cash house buyer, like Gaffsy, can be a viable option, especially if you need to sell quickly. They provide a free cash offerbuy any house in any condition and cover legal fees, provide a hassle-free sale process and can buy your property fast or a timeframe that suits you.

What should I do if I’m facing a forced house sale due to divorce or inheritance disputes?


In cases of divorce house sell or inheritance disputes, it’s crucial to seek legal advice. You might be able to negotiate with other parties involved or find legal solutions to delay or prevent the sale.

How can I protect myself against unfair practices by mortgage lenders?


Familiarise yourself with the Mortgage Conduct of Business Rules and the Mortgage Pre-Action Protocol in the UK. These set standards for lenders and offer you protection. If you feel these standards are not being met, you can file a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service.

What are my options if I can no longer afford my mortgage payments?


Besides negotiating with your lender, you can consider selling your property, renting it out, or exploring government assistance programs. Financial counselling can also offer personalised advice.

Can I stop a forced house sale once court proceedings have begun?


Yes, it’s possible. Presenting a viable payment plan to the court or showing evidence of an imminent sale can persuade the judge to give you more time.

What are the consequences of handing back the keys to my property?


Handing back the keys doesn’t absolve you of responsibility. You’ll still be liable for mortgage payments and other costs until the property is sold, and potentially for any shortfall if the sale price doesn’t cover what you owe.  Check out our blog How to stop house repossession

How can I sell my home to pay off mortgage debts?


You can sell your home through traditional methods or to a cash house buyer like Gaffsy. This can provide a quick sale and immediate funds to clear your mortgage debts.

What should I do if I’m forced to sell an inherited property?

If selling an inherited property, consider all stakeholders and explore options like buying out other heirs or selling the property on the open market. Legal advice is also advisable in these situations.

Facing a forced house sale can be a daunting experience, but understanding your options, rights, and the support available can make a significant difference. Whether it’s negotiating with lenders, exploring government programs, or considering a sale to a cash house buyer, there are multiple paths you can take to navigate this challenging time.

Remember, each situation is unique, and seeking personalised advice from professionals is always recommended. If you’re considering selling your property quickly, Gaffsy offers a fair, fast, and reliable service to help you through this process, contact us today.

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