Land Registry Aids Sham Lender in Repossession Case – UPDATE

For those following the previous posts regarding the abuse of the Unilateral Notice system with the UK Land Registry and Welcome Finance, there has finally been a happy ending in this case.

Following a previous posting of this story we were contacted by John Harley, one of the moderators of Consumer Credit Support who told us that the forum knew of other people who were having problems with Welcome Finance and that they were being represented by a lawyer from Stephensons in Manchester, a well known firm of solicitors specialising in this kind of litigation.

Mr Harley kindly offered to forward the details of our client Ms L to Stephensons to see if they would be able to represent her against Welcome Finance.

Ms L spent nearly a year of requesting, cajoling and pleading with Welcome Finance to provide copies of spurious loan agreements (against which Welcome had put a charge on Ms L’s property and which they had already admitted a number of times by phone that they did not have in their possession)

She also followed the Land Registry’s procedure for applying for a Unilateral Notice to be proven by the beneficiary (Welcome) or removed (a process that resulted in the Land Registry refusing to remove the charge even though no evidence had been supplied by Welcome to support the terms of their charge on the property).

The Land Registry told Ms L that she must pursue her own legal action against Welcome Finance.

Remember this is woman facing repossession, with a charge on her property of which she was not informed and for which there was no reason, or evidence of any loan or debt to the lender.

It was ultimately only the threat of legal action and the involvement of Stephensons that finally made Welcome apologise and then request that the LR remove the notice from the register.

This news was received by Ms L by phone the day before Christmas Eve and means that she can finally stay in her home and not be repossessed due to the spurious claims of a lender with whom she had never had an agreement.

Thanks are due to Mr Harley for suggesting Stephensons get involved. 

Divorce & Repossession – How it Can Affect You

This week we had a call from a concerned mother in Nottinghamshire regarding her daughter.

Married with 2 children, the daughter’s husband had not only moved out of their home but had also stopped paying their mortgage payments for over three months, which triggered the inevitable repossession threat and legal letters from their mortgage lender.

The daughter, “J”, was extremely concerned because she believed that her husband had the right to sell the property to a cash property buyer without her consent.

Of course, where the house title on the Land Registry and the mortgage are both in joint names, both sides need to agree to a sale before it can take place.

This does bring its own problems as fighting over the matrimonial home can be as bad as the fight over the custody of children.

Divorce & Repossession - How it Can Affect You

We advised J to inform her lender of the situation, and that she wished to remain in the home with her children, and to ask the court to make a judgement to allow her to stay in the home and to force the husband to contribute to the mortgage payments.

Unfortunately, this is just one more area where although the law does provide for these conditions, the time scale or funds available to take legal action can be out of step with the lender’s actions to repossess the house. It’s important in these situations to document all your actions and attempts to sort out the problem so if it does end up in court, you can show that you have made a serious attempt to reach a resolution.

In all cases you should take legal advice and basic advice for divorce and the home can also be found on the UK Shelter website.

If you are facing similar circumstances then please feel free to contact us directly

FSA Tells Lenders to Expect More Repossessions

Mortgage Application Form

The FSA told UK mortgage lenders this week to expect a massive rise in repossessions and defaults on payments.

In a twist whose irony will not be lost of the tens of thousands of UK victims of home repossession, many lenders are now in trouble and unable to refinance their debts, in the same way that many of their customers have been refused remortgage finance to service theirs.

Of course, the difference is that the individual homeowner facing repossession loses their home, whereas the banks facing similar situations get bailed out by public money, including taxes paid by the very homeowners who were repossessed.

It shows the old adage to be true that if you owe £5000 it’s your problem, if you owe £50 million it’s the bank’s problem.

Or in this case the Government’s.

Land Registry Aids Sham Lender in Repossession Case

As a follow up to our previous post about Welcome Finance placing a Unilateral Charge on the property of someone who they claim owes them money, we have further news about the Land Registry refusing to remove a unilateral notice despite the fact that the law clearly states that the beneficiary of the notice (in this case Welcome Finance) MUST provide evidence of the reason why the notice was placed in the first instance.

These notices can be registered by anyone prepared to the pay the LR fee, and all they need to do is state a ‘reason’.

No actual proof of claim is needed!

The property owner then has the burden of applying to the register to have the spurious claim removed.

The Land Registry’s own guidelines state that if the beneficiary does not respond within 15 days showing proof of validity of the claim relating to the unilateral notice, then they will automatically remove it.

Sounds fair? Yes. Until you actually go through that process, as we have just done with our client Ms L.

In her case Welcome Finance provided nothing more than an email almost at close of play on the 15th day. An email (Ms L was told that she could not supply evidence by email) that merely stated that they ‘objected’ to the removal.

No proof.

No copies of signed loan agreements to back it up.

Welcome Finance have already broken the statute on the Consumer Credit Act by not providing Ms L with true copies of all original loan agreements, and within the next few days will be in criminal breach if they do not provide these.

The truth seems to be that if Welcome Finance actually had these proofs they would have supplied them to back up their claim of almost £20,000 that they are claiming the unilateral charge refers to.

The guidelines are quite clear.

In the absence of proof the Land Registry should automatically remove the charge.

The reality is quite different.

In keeping with the mentality of other agencies of this Government, the LR have refused to get involved and suggests that Ms L seeks removal of the charge by taking legal action in court.

This is a woman on relatively low income, who lives alone, who is facing imminent repossession because of the actions of a lender who cannot prove any debts are actually owed and now the Land Registry have acted as a partner in the inevitable repossession.

Even the lenders who are seeking repossession from Ms L are appalled that the LR have not removed the charge that Welcome cannot prove.

Admittedly this may be sour grapes on their part if the LR have acted differently against their own unilateral notices but it does go to show the LR have acted appallingly.

There is of course a system of redress via one Jodi Berg, the Independent Complaints Reviewer that covers the LR activity, but by the time anything is decided, Ms L will be homeless, Welcome Finance will have pocketed the £20,000 that they have no legal or moral right to, and this will be the fault of the Land Registry.

For more background on this case read here

If you are facing repossession and need our help free of charge, please contact us here

UK Land Registry Used by Sub Prime Lenders For Sham Claims

 We’ve recently been working on a problematic case to help a Ms L to be able to sell her property in order to pay off her 2 secured creditors, her mortgage and her secured loan.

At the point of exchanging contracts with her buyer, Ms L’s conveyancing solicitors discovered that there was a third charge against the property for approx £40,000. This charge was from Welcome Finance.

Ms L said she was unaware of any secured debts owed to Welcome Finance.

We stepped in to help her unravel the mystery, and this is where we discovered that sub prime lenders are abusing the Land Registry rules under Section 36 LRA 2002 regarding so called Unilateral Notices.

A standard charge against a property is registered by any mortgage lender or other secured lender at the time that the loan is taken out and with full knowledge of the borrower.

However, a Unilateral Notice also acts like a charge on the title of the property, the owner being unable to sell their interest in the property without satisfying the Unilateral Notice. Fair enough?

Well, actually, no. That is because anyone can apply for a Unilateral Notice to be placed on someone’s property without any proof whatsoever of the registered debt is either real, legal, or enforceable.

In the case of Ms L, we had a sympathetic judge some weeks ago who allowed us the maximum 56 days on a suspended possession order so that we could apply to the Land Registry to get this notice removed.

A simple form UN4 was submitted to the Land Registry free of charge (so it should be!), to request the removal of the Notice after which the beneficiary of the Unilateral Charge (in this case Welcome Finance) was given 15 days to respond to the LR with proof of a legitimate claim.

Incredibly, Welcome Finance did not have to prove that they had a legitimate claim before placing the Unilateral Notice on the Land Registry.

On day 15 at the eleventh hour, Welcome Finance responded to the LR with an ‘objection’ to the removal of the notice.

Beyond the simple words ‘we object’ Welcome Finance were unable to provide proof of any enforceable debt, any signed credit agreements, or anything else.

Concurrent to this process, Ms L had served Welcome Finance with letters quoting her statutory right (enclosing two £1 postal orders) to be sent true and exact copies of the two signed original credit agreements that Welcome Finance had referred to in previous correspondence to her directly.

They failed to provide any evidence.

Failure to do this within 12 days is a breach of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (Sections 77−79) and failure to do so within a further 30 days is a criminal act.
Now Ms L is fighting a losing battle with time running out.

Despite the County Court Judge having suspended the possession order for 56 days, the first and second charge lenders GE Money, and London Scottish respectively, have both been harrassing Ms L for payment of arrears, despite being informed by her solicitor that the order for possession has been suspended, and the reasons why.

Now the Land Registry are saying that because Welcome Finance have objected, despite them having never produced any evidence as to the validity of their claim, that the matter must go to ajudication.

This will mean that although Ms L will ultimately win (after all if Welcome Finance did have any proof or paperwork to back up their claims of debt, they would have provided it by now), that her first and second charge lenders are piling on huge penalties and legal fees for arrears, whilst she fights a notice against HER property by a company that did not have to prove its case before the Land Registry accepted the charge, and still have yet to prove that money is legitimately owed to them.

To make matters worse, during this period Welcome Finance have even contacted Ms L, by phone, to try to sell her a (unsecured) loan.

It is extremely likely that this delayed action and the naive actions of the Government’s Land Registry in allowing anyone to register a charge without proof, will mean the loss of her buyer (the purchase price does not and cannot include the spurious £40k) and almost certainly the loss of her home.