Halifax reposessed wife's flat before I met her

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My wife's flat was reposessed by the Halifax 7.5 years ago after she lost her job. I later met and married her, now we have two children and a jointly owned property. Debt collectors are now chasing her for a shortfall debt of B#11,000 and are threatening to take a charge out on our current property if she doesn't pay. Can anybody offer any advice, as we have now received a solicitors letter of 'final demand'.

Many thanks, Andrew.

-- andrew wise (a_wise@hotmail.com), November 02, 2000


Its not clear from your posting if your wife has already been to court and been sued for the B#11,000. If she hasn't, then there is no way that a charging order can be placed on the property. A charging order is just one of many ways in which a creditor can pursue payment of a debt AFTER judgement has been obtained through the Courts.

If the debt collectors have only started claiming the shortfall amount in the last year and a half, then there is no reason why you shouldn't use the 6 year rule and say that they're out of time.

Look through the repossession website for more information on this. If the Halifax are persistent, then you may need to get in touch with a solicitor (and possibly a barrister). Depending on the circumstances your wife may be entitled to help under the Legal Help scheme from the CLS (www.justask.org.uk). The CLS website has directories of solicitors and other advisors (some which are free) in all areas. A barrister isn't necessarily going to be expensive, and you can get a written opinion from B#100 upwards.

From what I understand, it is possible for a creditor to place a charging order on the house, even when it is jointly owned. However I suspect that this would only happen on a recent debt. I would be very surprised if a court would grant such an order when the repossession took place a long time before you actually got married. You are the innocent party in all this, and so are your children, and I doubt that a court would agree to the sale, in fact the courts would not want to make children homeless.

If the Halifax were to get judgement against your wife, then one of their options for recovery of the debt is the charging order, which is only really worth it if there is lots of equity in the house to cover the debt. The order means that a notice is placed with the Land Registry showing that the Halifax have an interest in the sale proceeds of the house. This forewarns any person intending to buy your house. The Halifax can then at any point apply to the courts to order that the property is sold, the first mortgage with your current lender would be paid first and then the Halifax.

I would also add here that if you are tenants-in-common, ie you own 80% of the house and your wife 20% (just an an example) then if the Halifax did get their way, then they could only take the money from your wife's share. This information will be in the papers from when you bought your house.

Read the website thoroughly for more information and try and see a solicitor or other adviser if you can.

Good luck.

-- pendle (pendle@amun-ra.demon.co.uk), November 03, 2000.

When did they first contact her about this alleged shortfall debt? Halifax said they would not pursue any alleged debts over six years old, after Feb 11th this year. This is a decision lauded by the Council of Mortgage Lenders. Or did they contact her just before the 'deadline'? You still have plenty of options, though. Please *do* read the 'repossession' part of this site thoroughly, and get back in touch. There are a lot of people who can offer support via this site. Good luck.

-- Eleanor Scott (eleanor.scott@btinternet.com), November 03, 2000.

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