A BAN on home repossessions is set to be extended until April under proposals by the regulator - but bailiffs will still be able to seize goods and ca
A BAN on home repossessions is set to be extended until April under proposals by the regulator – but bailiffs will still be able to seize goods and cars.
Repossessing homes due to unpaid bills has been halted since March 2020 so homeowners can safely observe government guidance to stay at home without fear of losing their property.
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Now, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is looking at pushing back the deadline again until at least April 1 to support struggling bill payers through England’s third national lockdown.
While moving house is legal during the shutdown, the regulator believes forcing families to move will put them at unnecessary risk.
However, the extra support is only being offered to homeowners and does not cover vehicles and consumer goods from January 31.
Debt collectors: Know your rights
HERE are your rights, according to Citizens Advice:
- All bailiffs should send you a letter before they visit to check if you’re vulnerable because of Covid-19.
- They should give you at least 30 days’ notice if they are collecting debts owed to your council, court fines or child maintenance.
- They’re not allowed to enter your home to take goods – they should only talk to you, collect money or give you documents.
- They must make sure they are social distancing.
- If you’re vulnerable or in financial hardship caused by the pandemic they must refer you to debt advisers.
If you think debt collectors have broken the rules, or acted aggressively by issuing threats, intimidation, offensive language, or repeatedly visiting, texting or calling you then you should complain to the organisation you owe money to.
Lorraine Charlton, debt expert at Citizens Advice, said: “Complaining won’t cancel your original debt, but it can give you a chance to deal with it in a way that suits you.”
It argues seizing products does not put homeowners at risk in the same way, as long as bailiffs observe social distancing rules.
The proposed guidance points out the repossessions should only be carried out as a last resort and the impact on vulnerable customers should also be considered.
Continuing to halt repossessions could end up costing borrowers more in the long run, it said, due to higher borrowing interest rates and the falling value of goods and vehicles.
Currently, properties and consumer goods should only be seized in exceptional circumstances.
The FCA is inviting members of the public to give feedback on the proposals by 10am on January 18.
Trade bodies UK Finance and the Building Societies Association, which represent lenders, said they will respond in support of the FCA’s draft guidance.
Eric Leenders, managing director of personal finance at UK Finance, said: “The banking and finance industry is committed to providing ongoing support to those facing financial difficulty as a result of the pandemic.”
Meanwhile, Paul Broadhead, head of mortgage and housing policy at the Building Societies Association, said: “Mortgage lenders recognise the unique circumstances which are affecting some borrowers during the pandemic.”
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If passed, the proposals would reflected an extension in support for renters in England, Wales and Scotland too.
A ban on bailiff evictions due to end on January 11 was earlier this week pushed back until at least February 21.
The scheme was first introduced in March 2020 as a short-term measure but has seen its ending extended multiple times throughout the year.