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What is Mortgage Repossession?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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A mortgage repossession is a situation in which a lender declares a mortgage to be in default and assumes ownership of the home used as the collateral for that loan. The term itself is often used interchangeably with home repossession or house repossession, with mortgage repossession being the favored term in nations such as the United Kingdom and Canada. Typically, this type of repossession action also involves the formal eviction of the homeowner of the property, with that order to vacate issued by a local court and carried out by local law enforcement.

There are two common reasons why a mortgage repossession may occur. One has to do with the failure of the homeowner to make timely payments on the mortgage, either due to negligence or an inability to pay as the result of a loss of income. When attempts to work with the debtor fail, the lender will normally begin legal proceedings to begin a foreclosure and repossession process. Assuming the court agrees with the claims of the lender, an order of eviction is granted, and the title to the property is granted solely to the lender. At that point, the lender is free to sell the property in order to offset the remaining balance on the mortgage and any costs associated with the repossession efforts.

Another possible reason for mortgage repossession has to do with the debtor entering into bankruptcy. Depending on the laws that apply in the jurisdiction where the property is located, the lender may be able to regain control of the property even if the debt was included in the bankruptcy action. This is not the case in every jurisdiction, since some areas do not allow the inclusion of the primary residence in this type of action, or place limits on the ability of a lender to take control of the property. In areas where a repossession with bankruptcy is possible, the court will normally require that the debtor vacate the premises within a given period of time, or face being forcibly evicted.

In some cases, a debtor may choose to voluntarily initiate a mortgage repossession. This is sometimes done in an effort to avoid incurring any additional late fees or penalties, or in an attempt to prevent the repossession from damaging the debtor’s credit rating. While this approach may limit the accumulation of penalties and fees, the lender is still free to submit negative information to credit bureaus, which in turn will have an adverse effect on the debtor’s credit standing.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including MyLawQuestions, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By Soulfox — On Jul 07, 2014

@Logicfest -- a lot of those statutes do allow for the person who is being foreclosed on to have a court hearing. But think about it. If someone is so far behind on a mortgage that they are getting foreclosed on, how likely is it that person is going to have enough money to go hire a lawyer? I don't know. The whole thing seems unfair somehow.

By Logicfest — On Jul 06, 2014

@Melonlity -- that is a good question, but most states do allow for the person that has been served with foreclosure papers to request a court hearing. They can't simply toss someone out of a house and then sell the property without giving the homeowner notice.

The people who say nonjudicial foreclosures are a good idea claim the process is quick and cuts down on costs because court hearings are expensive. It is certainly true that the process is quick, but whether it cuts down on costs and whether that is a good enough reason to allow nonjudicial foreclosures are claims that are up for debate.

By Markerrag — On Jul 06, 2014

In the United States, this is often achieved through non-judicial foreclosure. The notion that someone can get booted out of a home through a statutory procedure without the benefit of a legal proceeding is controversial in the states that allow them.

And that raises a question. Is it really OK to take someone's home from them without giving them a chance to fight for it in court?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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