The Bank Is Threatening Foreclosure on My Home
When a bank or other institution lends you money to buy a home, they take a mortgage to secure payment. A mortgage is registered against the title of your home, and if you don’t make the required payments, the bank may be able to foreclose. This will usually mean you have to pay them the entire amount owing on the mortgage, though sometimes you can arrange to catch up your payments. If you cannot make some kind of arrangement, you risk your house being sold to pay the mortgage. The usual first step in a foreclosure is a demand letter from the lender or its lawyer, saying that you are in arrears (behind) in your payments and demanding that you bring them up to date.
- Do not ignore the demand letter. If at all possible, you should get legal advice right away. Then, try to negotiate with the lender to see if you can arrange manageable repayment terms.
- If you can’t work things out with the lender, the lender will probably start a court action to foreclose on your mortgage. This usually happens after you’ve missed three months of payments. But it can happen sooner. They will serve on you (give you in person) a BC Supreme Court petition. The petition will ask the court to confirm the amount you owe and set a time period — usually six months, but sometimes shorter — during which you can redeem, or pay off the mortgage. At some point in the foreclosure process, the lender may also ask for an order that your home be sold, and for an order that the lender will have conduct (control) of the sale.
- If you are served with a foreclosure petition, it is important to get legal help. If you are self-representing, you must file a response document within 21 days after the date the petition was served on you, and deliver it to all parties along with any affidavits (sworn written statements) telling your side of the story.
Supreme Court forms can be accessed through the "Laws, Cases & Rules" page on Clicklaw; click on "BC Supreme Court Civil Forms." For information on what should go into an affidavit, see the publication "Can't Pay Your Mortgage? What You Can Do If You're Facing Foreclosure."
What happens next
The court will set a date for a hearing of the petition. The judge will read the affidavits and other materials and listen to the lender’s lawyer and to you. Generally, if you are in default, the best you can hope for is enough time to arrange for other financing to pay out the lender or at least to come up with enough to catch up your payments. You can also use that time to try to sell the house, up to the time the lender gets an order for them to have conduct of sale.
Where to get help
See the Resource List for a list of helpful resources. Your best bets are:
- Credit Counselling Society of BC.
- Access Pro Bono, Lawyer Referral Service, and private bar lawyers.
- The Legal Services Society publication "Can't Pay Your Mortgage? What You Can Do If You're Facing Foreclosure."
- The Clicklaw common question "I've missed a few mortgage payments and am facing foreclosure" for a few more resources on foreclosure.
Before meeting with a lawyer or advocate, complete the form Preparing for Your Interview included in this Guide. Make sure you bring copies of all documents relating to your case.
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Drew Jackson, March 2017.|
|Legal Help for British Columbians © Cliff Thorstenson and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.|