What are they?
A charging order is, in effect, a court imposed mortgage on your home.
Who can apply for a charging order?
Anyone who has an unsatisfied court judgment against you in respect of a debt.
What if the judgment is against me only and my wife/husband is a joint owner of my property? Can the court grant a charging order in those circumstances?
Yes. The court can grant the claimant a charging order on your share in the property.
How can someone to whom I owe money find out if I own the property in which I live?
Very simply; they can apply to the Land Registry for office copies of the Register of Title relating to your property. The office copies will provide them with full details of your property including who owns it, whether you own the freehold or leasehold and who else already has a mortgage or charge on the property. The office copy entries will not tell them the value of the property but may disclose how much you paid for it. Similarly the office copies will not tell them how much you owe to other lenders who have registered a mortgage/charge against your property.
Will I be told if someone has applied for a charging order and will I have to attend court?
Yes you will be told. The person applying for a charging order must lodge the necessary application papers at court along with evidence of your ownership. If the court is satisfied with the application it will grant the applicant an interim charging order which will include a hearing date. The interim charging order will then be served on you and anyone else disclosed in the application as having an interest in the property (mortgage lender, co-owner) or indeed anyone to whom the applicant knows you owe money to. If you wish to attend the court hearing to dispute the charging order application you are free to do so but the court is unlikely to refuse the application unless there are compelling grounds for it to do so. Unless you are able to show good reason why the applicant should not be given a charging order the court will make a final order to secure the debt.
If someone obtains a charging order does it mean that I will lose my home?
Not necessarily. The holder of a charging order can apply to the court for an order that the property be sold whether you own it solely or indeed jointly with someone else. However, the courts do not grant such orders readily. Many factors are taken into account including, but not limited to, who else is in occupation (spouse, children, elderly infirm grandparents etc.).
27 April 2015 By Steve Maskell