New laws mean credit card debt can affect your mortgage
From 1st October new legislation will come into force which will change how creditors can apply for charging orders.
If you miss payments on a credit card, your creditors follow the normal debt collection process. It would take many steps, and many months, before an unsecured debt can be turned into a secured one, via a charging order.
However new legislation means that from 1st October many of these steps have been taken away, and that creditors will be able to apply for a charging order with much more ease.
On the back of this we expect to see a significant rise in the amount of charging orders being applied for by creditors looking to enforce unsecured debts.
How it works now
At the moment if you miss payments on a credit card or other unsecured debt your creditors need to issue a default notice first. If this proves unsuccessful one of the routes they can take to enforce payment is through a county court judgment (CCJ).
A person in debt would need to default on a CCJ before creditors could go further to secure the debt through a charging order (However, creditors can sometimes apply for a re-determination at court with a view to securing the debt based on the CCJ payment being too low).
How the new charging orders will work
However this whole process is about to change significantly for those with problem unsecured debt.
From 1st October onwards Section 93 of The Tribunal, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 will allow a creditor to apply for a charging order against a client who has a county court judgment, even if they haven’t missed any payments due under the CCJ.
So essentially, when a court grants a CCJ it will be effectively handing the creditor the right to secure the debt against any property the person with the debt has, whether they stick to the terms of the CCJ or not. As a result, your home could be sold.
Clients can still defend against charging orders at the final charging order hearing and the court in question will have to consider the position of the client and the creditor.
These changes to law will mean that in many cases we’ll have to change our advice to our clients (although this something we often need to do to keep up with the ever-changing world of debt legislation).
How will this impact you?
This should impact the way we, as consumers, look at unsecured debt in the future. Any changes that mean unsecured debt can quickly, and in some cases easily, become secured may make homeowners think twice before taking out credit card debt or short-term loans. After all, it could lead to their home being sold from under them.
It’s worth noting again that this will only apply to CCJs granted after October 1st 2012. Creditors will not be able to take retrospective action on CCJs granted before this date.
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