Lenders agree to an industry voluntary Christmas moratorium on possessions

The banking and finance industry is committed to providing ongoing support to those in financial difficulty as a result of the pandemic, especially those who may be worried about making their mortgage payments.  

The industry recognises that the upcoming Christmas period may be financially stressful for borrowers as the pandemic continues to evolve. To provide certainty lenders have agreed, as an industry, to a voluntary Christmas Moratorium which means that no customer will lose their home over the festive season. 

Between Monday 13 December and Tuesday 4 January, members of UK Finance and the Building Societies Association (BSA) have agreed that they will not seek, nor enforce, a warrant for possession for residential and buy-to-let properties. There are some exceptional circumstances when a lender may continue with possession. This might be where the property is vacant, the customer is deceased, or where a borrower requests that proceedings continue.  

This means that for consumers who have already been to court, and a judge has granted a possession order, lenders will not take any additional steps during the Moratorium period. Lenders will continue to communicate to customers about how they could get back on track. Even where a lender obtains a Possession Order, possession is not necessarily a foregone conclusion, and if a borrower can restart paying some of their mortgage their lender will continue to support them. 

For renters whose landlords are in financial difficulty, lenders will continue to appoint Receivers of Rent during this period. Appointment of a Receiver of Rent allows the tenant to remain in the property while the lender takes possession action. 

These measures build on the industry's commitment to support customers through the pandemic.  

Since March 2020, lenders have provided almost three million payment deferrals for mortgages and some 2.2 million payment deferrals for personal loans and credit cards.?  

Any customer who is worried about their finances should contact their lender as soon as possible, ideally before they start to miss payments. Lenders stand by ready to help and will offer tailored support that best meets the borrower's circumstances. Customers should be reassured that possession will always remain a last resort.  

Outside of this period (13 December to 4 January), lenders will comply with any prevailing government guidance that impacts on a customer's ability to vacate the property, for example, self-isolation or stay-at-home requirements. They will not enforce a possession, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Area of expertise: