‘Shelter helped me keep my home after I fell into mortgage arrears’

Kate lost her job when the company she worked for went bankrupt.

Kate

Kate

I only had three days’ notice.  My salary had only been paid sporadically for several months because the company was in such financial trouble and so I’d already got behind on my mortgage payments.

When I told the mortgage company I’d lost my job, they served me with a repossession notice the same week.

I was petrified when I got the repossession notice.  I’ve got a six-year-old daughter and my mum is disabled and lives with us.  We’ve lived in this house since I was one, my dad grew up here.  It’s not the best house but it’s our house.

I thought, what am I going to do, how I am going to tell my daughter that we have to move out.  I was worried she’d have to change schools, her school is just around the corner from our house.

Shelter models, Walthamstow

Our local community is so important to us, we have friends and family nearby, and shops less than a minute’s walk away so that my Mum can walk there on her good days.

The threat of losing our home had a huge impact on all of us.  I developed shingles partly due to the stress of losing my job and then facing repossession, and the stress made my Mum more ill.

I tried to put on a brave face to protect my Mum and my daughter but they could see I was upset.

It was a really tough time to find a job because it was just before Christmas and a lot of the jobs were temporary or far from my home.  I tried everything to raise money, I even sold some of our stuff in car boot sales. But I couldn’t pay the mortgage.

The mortgage company actually told me about Shelter, I hadn’t heard about them before.  I went to my local Shelter office and saw an adviser.  She told me to stay calm and said they would help if there was any way they could.

She was amazing. She sat down and said: “Don’t do anything… I’m going to go through everything and we’re going to work out how you’re going to put your points across to the judge when it gets to the court.”

She went through the whole circumstances and told me what I could and couldn’t afford and she told me things I could apply for that I didn’t even know existed.  She also told me about getting housing support in case the worst came to the worst.

Shelter models, Walthamstow

My adviser helped me with the financial statements and told me how write it in a letter and how to put it across.  She gave me advice all the way through.  She forewarned me of what to expect in the court and she made me focus on what I was doing.

She gave me hope, she said, you are looking for a job, you have some money, and she helped me set up a court date.  It put me in such a positive frame of mind that I was willing and able to handle myself in court.

Then I managed to speak to a company who were recruiting at my local job centre and I went for an interview and got the job.

I couldn’t get there without a car and my dad scraped some money together and lent me some money to get a small car.

I told the mortgage company about the job, but they weren’t interested.  I’d only been unemployed for a month but they still wanted to take the house.

My repossession hearing was scheduled for the day after I started my new job.  At the last minute my Shelter adviser went through and changed all my income and expenditure forms and printed them all off for me.

Shelter models, Walthamstow

Because of Shelter’s advice I was able to put my points across very confidently and clearly in court and the judge and the lawyer for the bank accepted all that I said.

The judge was impressed enough to suspend the warrant for repossession.

I really would have been in a different place if it were not for the help and advice from Shelter. And even now 18 months on I regularly use the advice I was given – stay calm and look for what you can do, not what you can’t.

I am truly grateful for the help – and wherever possible I recommend Shelter to others. Shelter has helped us keep a roof over our heads which is what everyone deserves.

In January my mortgage company agreed that as the payments have been maintained, that they could take the arrears and add them into the existing balance, so we are officially no longer in arrears!

I pay a little extra every month,  and we’ve even managed to do some work at home so it’s becoming a happier place, and to think we would have lost it without Shelter’s support.

*Kate wanted to remain anonymous, so we used a model to portray her. She wanted to share some of her own tips for dealing with repossession. You can listen to her here:

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