Hi everyone, I'm new to this site so please forgive my lack of knowledge in advance of abbreviations, "lingo" etc etc, I'll try to learn as quickly as I can..!
My mortgage for my home is with Oakwood Homeloans Ltd and they were given a possession order in December 2010 and they have sent a bailiff around just before Xmas 2012 with an eviction notice for 1st Feb 2013 on the basis I am in arrears on the court appointed arrangement.
There is an awful lot of history with my mortgage that has caused all sorts of problems and I will try and outline some of the main points which will hopefully be able to shed some light on the situation for anyone willing to offer some advice...
In 2009, without my knowledge, agreement or any discernible reason, Oakwood Homeloans altered my mortgage from a standard 'homeowner' mortgage to a buy-to-let mortgage and increased my interest rate by 1%. They claimed their reasoning for this was that they had a letter they sent returned by the post office with 'Addressee gone away' written on it. When I later received a letter telling me they were about to increase my mortgage interest rate and therefore increasing my payment by about £90 per month, I phoned them up to find out what on earth was going on and to let them know that I live at the property (single father with sole custody of my daughter... Mortgage joint with ex-partner though, but not had sight nor sound of her in about 4-5 years). I also let them know that I'd always lived there since buying it and it had never been rented or unoccupied.
Oakwood Homeloans stated that it was now "too late" for me to just tell them this as they had sent me several letters to ask whether I was renting the property and that was not allowed under the terms of the mortgage without their consent. I informed them that I had not responded because I had not received any such letters, I went on to explain that the post in the area was particularly bad at that time and it's not beyond likelihood the letters had gone to neighbouring address as I regularly received post for various neighbours (This was a well known fact in the area at the time, when I spoke to my local post office, they said they'd had several reports similar already but couldn't do anything about it without proof of stolen post etc etc). I asked for items to be sent recorded delivery in future if they were going to take such drastic action based on such lacking information. As I'm sure you're already guessing, they simply said this is not possible (I made this request across numerous phone calls with them and in writing... still refused). Anyway, the point is.... They said it was now too late just to tell them I lived there and I now had to send them proof in the form of a council tax bill and 2 utility bills. I thought this was ridiculous but agreed on the basis they sent first sent me written confirmation that they would agree to my charge of £50 for doing so and the waste of my time (The cost of an hour's labour in my line of work). The lady on the phone didn't agree or disagree, simple "avoided" it, despite my best efforts. So I refused on principal to send such information to them without this agreement to pay my costs for doing so. I asked the lady where in the terms of the mortgage I was required to do this but she couldn't tell me (having read the terms in full, there is no reference in them to such a requirement). Furthermore, there is nowhere in them that states they could change my mortgage to a buy-to-let product in the way they had.... This was also pointed out to them at one of the court hearings in November 2010 (and there advocat also agreed he couldn't find anywhere where it stated that they could).
So, this meant that because they never agreed to pay my charge, they shortly after switched my mortgage to a buy-to-let, despite my objections and subsequently increased what they wanted my mortgage payment to be by approx £90 per month. At the time of this occuring, I was in arrears with my account to approx £3,600. With the extra £90, Oakwood were saying my payments should now be about £815 per month instead of £725. Previously, I had already agreed to up my payments to £850 per month to clear the arrears, paying off £125 of it each month. Obviously, as soon as they increased interest rate and payment to £815, this meant I was only paying off £35 in their eyes. I had many more phone calls with them and after a few started to insist they were forcing me to pay towards a mortgage product I had not requested or agreed to and that unless they changed it back I would stop making payments until they do so, as I am not going to continue to pay towards a product I did not 'buy'. At this point I had paid £3,400 during the period they had changed my mortgage and again on several calls to them, insisted that I considered this as payment towards my arrears of £3,600, leaving my total arrears at £200 and that as they have me on an un-agreed buy-to-let mortgage, they must have put my actual mortgage into suspension (as I was unable to make payments which would be considered as being towards this during this period.... Had I paid £725 during this period, they would have considered this an underpayment and charged me for that fact rather than accepting it as my actual contractual payment). On the phone, they never really offered much comment to this and the response to my written complaint was simply to demand the utility bills again.
Eventually, in Feb 2010, they sent a representitive from a debt management company who's original intention was to go through my finances etc and look at coming up with a solution to the reported arrears to him by Oakwood Homeloans. Once I explained the situation he saw no need to go through finances etc as he could clearly see there were issues with the account and he also kindly said he would confirm back to Oakwood that it was absolutely clear I was living there. Not until september 2010 did Oakwood Homeloans finally concede to the report given back to them by this agent and even then, they said they would refund the extra 1% loading but only backdated it to April 2010 (2 months after the agent had visited me at home). They kept insisting for any more 'backdating' I would still need to provide the utility and council tax bills, to which I kept insisting I was happy to do once I had received written confirmation they would accept my £50 charge for my time and inconvenience of having to supply this. Again, I never received this confirmation. I also insisted that I did not accept this 'backdating', as I read it, they has changed my product to one not agreed by myself (In the terms and conditions of the mortgage, they refer to the buy-to-let mortgages in a way that they are clearly treating it as a different product to the standard mortgage and not as a standard mortgage with a 1% interest rate loading as they kept trying to refer to their actions as).
Furthermore, when they eventually returned the mortgage back to the standard product, instead of my basic monthly payment being £725, it was suddenly £740 per month due to them having carried out a recalculation at the time of 'altering' the interest rate... So for their mistake of increasing my interest rate (and carrying out a recalculation based on the outstanding balance of the mortgage) and then putting the interest rate back to the correct one (and then carrying out another recalculation based upon the outstanding balance at that time, obviously inclusive of all the additional charges/fees etc they'd added), I am now being charged an additional £15 per month. I have argued this with them, but everyone I speak to doesn't appear to understand the basic mathematics of this and the concept that they made an error changing the mortgage product and are charging me an extra £15 per month for this error of theirs. If they hadn't made this error, no recalculations would have occurred and my basic monthly payment would still be the £725.
Moving forward, they then applied to court for a possession order based on arrears of approximately £11,000 by this point (as I'd continued to refuse to pay for the period they had it listed as a buy-to-let mortgage). I went to court arguing an arrears figure of approximately £4,500 based on my understanding of my mortgage being suspended whilst the product had been changed and the court agreed and stated this as the arrears figure within the judgement (This had jumped up from the £200 arrears I previously mentioned because towards the end of the period they had it as a buy-to-let, I had a change in circumstances which resulted in a reduction in income and I therefore hadn't made a number of the payments due after they 're-activated' my actual mortgage product. At the time they applied to court, the arrears figure by my calculations was about £1,200 but by the time of getting to court and a ruling, the arrears were approx £4,500 and I accept I had made very little contributions to the monthly payments during that period). Anyway, as I said, the judge accepted my figures, as well as my reasoning for the monthly contribution beign £725 rather than the £740 they claimed and had a bit of a go at their advocate, who had also agreed he saw nothing in the terms of the mortgage that allowed them to take the course of action they did. They were also ordered to provide me within 7 days of the relavent Ombudsman details of who to complain to about the treatment I had received.
Since the judgement in December 2010, which was for me to pay my £725 per month towards my contractual monthly amount and £125 towards the arrears of £4,500, totalling £850 per month, I kept up to date with this. My decline in my personal income was overcome by me going self employed (previous problem caused by the company I worked for going under, leaving me with unpaid wages that I couldn't recover), so I was now making the payments ok. From April 2012, things with my business have been quite difficult and I started to struggle to make the payments, ocassionally missing the date I had to make payment by, but then I would make up for it by paying a few weeks later than I should or on 1 occasion, paying double when the following month was due. Most of these recent income problems have been caused by customers being late paying me and me all of a sudden I was finding it a lot more difficult to get paid for some of the work I was doing. Obviously, this was having the knock on effect that I was being late with my mortgage, but to my knowledge I was always catching back up with where I should be. Because I was speakign to Oakwood Homeloans every month to make the payments, they were fully aware of the situation because they asked every time what the reason was and to some extent they appeared to be understanding of this. Then in December I was coming up to being about 5 or 6 weeks overdue, so technically 2 payments were overdue, one by 6 weeks, the other by 2 weeks. At this point I had a knock on the door from a bailiff of the court with an eviction notice for 1st February. To say my heart sank is an understatement! At the same time furious that all my grievences are simply washed over and ignored by them... Since the court judgement in December 2010, they continue to state my arrears as approximately £11,000 on all the correspondence they send me and still insist the contractual monthly payment is £740, so are only deducting £110 from the arrears figure (if that because there figures still don't add up by over £1,000 between Dec 2010 and now). By my reckoning, since December 2010 (24 months ago), I have made 24 contributions of £125 towards the arrears, so by my figures, my arrears would be £1,500. According to Oakwood, in December 2010, the arrears were £11,360.60 and as of today, they claim they are £11,183.70... Work that one out... A reduction of £176.90 (I used the exact stated figures here as have them on the paper in front of me from Friday's phone call to them). Before Christmas, I sent a cheque to them for £1,700, which I again believed brought me back up to date with the court appointed payment requirements.
The reason for my phone call to them on Friday was 2-fold. Firstly, I'd spoken to them a week or so earlier stating that I would call back on this Friday to make a further payment of £850, i.e. the payment due at the beginning of this month, therefore again being up to date and secondly they were nattering me to complete an income and expenditure form, which was highly annoying, I kept insisting there was a court appointed amount I have to pay each month (£850), but they said this is irrelavent now because I had been late with payments and they therefore needed to do an income/expediture form to be able to assesss the affordability and then they could put this to their credit managers who would make a decision as to whether this was acceptable... So, reluctantly I agreed to do this over the phone and I was therefore calling last friday to chase up the outcome of this as it had been over a week with no reply which I didn't find acceptable given the impending eviction. The lady on the phone put me on hold, spoke to the credit managers and came back saying they wont accept the payment offer of £850 per month until they had received and assessed 3 months bank statements and proof of income. By this point I was fuming and refused to give them this information. I stated I see no reason why they need to see bank statements to assess the affordability of this (they said they need to do this so that they are not putting undue stress on the customer... Funnily enough, I'm finding the impending eviction somewhat more stressful!!!). I've never needed to do this with them in the past, I've just told them what I can afford to pay to set up a repayment schedule (when dealing with my arrears before any eviction proceedings in 2010). I also have a secured loan with GE Money and there was a period when that was in arrears and again, they never asked for any of this, just asked how I was going to clear the arrears and then they inputted this.
At this point I said that the £850 I was going to pay during the course of this call, I was not willing to do so without there being an agreement in place to suspend the eviction and accept the £850 per month. My reasoning was if I was about to be homeless in 2 to 3 weeks, I would need that money to try and set up somewhere else for my daughter and I to live. The lady on the phone was quite understanding of this, I suspect she could gauge how stressed I was. But it was also at this point she informed me that paying that £850 would not have brought me up to date anyway, there was an additional payment I had missed between April that year and now. I was sure she was wrong because everytime I phoned to make a payment I had it confirmed to me that the payment I was making had brought me up to date with the agreement. Having spent ages trailing through my bank statements, it does seem as though she is correct, but I just can't comprehend how they can continually misinform me like this! The lady on the phone was apologetic for this, but that doesn't really help my situation at the moment.
So after all this, I am desperate for some advice if possible as to what on earth I can do??? My thoughts are that I approach the court directly and ask for a suspension of the eviction on the following reasons:
1. Oakwood Homeloans have not abided by the court order because they continue to harrass me, stating arrears of over £11,000 and an incorrect contractual monthly figure, despite being told different figures by the court (they have taken no notice at all of the court's figures in the obtained judgement).
2. Although I agree I am behind by £850 on the court apointed repayment schedule, I am not behind on the mortgage... Technically, since the court order of December 2010, I have paid £19,550 towards the mortgage. The contractual payments due in this period to today are £18,125. So I am only actually in arrears on paying the arrears. In this period, I have paid all the contractual payments plus £1,425 toward the arrears. If I were to pay the £850 I have to hand that I would have paid last Friday, that would be a further £850, bringing me to having paid £2,275 towards the arrears of £4,500. I am happy to have this payment available there and then at the courthouse at my suspension of the eviction hearing, so they can see me pay it right in front of them if necessary. Assuming I can then also get them a further £850 before the end of January and bring the court appointed payments bang up to date, then this would leave the total arrears at me having paid £3,125 towards them, leaving just £1,375 arrears still to clear on the court order, but being up to date with the payment schedule set out in the order of December 2010.
My next step is also that I now plan to contact the Ombudsman about the whole way my account has been dealt with. I can't begin to describe the stress this has put me under for the past 3 years or so. With a young daughter, this weighs heavily over me everyday, worrying about her. I realise I would have been wise to contact the Ombudsman straight away when advised to do so by the judge back in December 2010 but I hate conflict and concentrated instead on just getting my head down and getting on with my everyday life of raising my daughter and earning the funds to pay my mortgage etc.
I've been pushed beyond the point of no return though, with Oakwood Homeloans complete disregard for everything presented to them by both me and the court and simply trying to plough forward on their own agenda. My complaint to the Ombudsman will be based around the main part of this post (but in more detail... Yes, I realise this post is ridiculously long and waffly, but there's far more detail behind even what I have written here!), along with all the other evidence such as the letters I sent them, the responses received etc etc.
But my biggest concern obviously is the immediate issue of the eviction on 1st February and trying to get this suspended. I would be very grateful for any advice on how to go about constructing my application to have the eviction suspended, should I include everything that's in this post or stick to purely the 2 numbered points above? Surely they wont evict someone who's actually paid all of the contracutal monthly amounts plus some of the arrears??? Well I'm praying they wont anyway!!
I would like to offer my sincerest of thanks in advance to anyone patient enough to have read all of this and to offer me any advice they can. Having read a few threads before posting, there are clearly some absolutely champions around here!