Back in our post on the 50th update to the CPR, we noted that there was a new requirement from 1 October 2009 for the Claimant in mortgage possession proceedings to notify occupiers of proceedings within 5 days of receiving notification of the date of hearing and, interestingly, to notify the local authority’s housing department under CPR 55. We wondered at the time what local authorities would actually do with these notifications.
And now Housing Minister John Healey has told them and us what they must do. Well, not so much must do as should do. Or perhaps ought to maybe think about doing, at least if they like the idea. Healey’s press release makes it sound good:
Mr Healey has also written today to all council leaders saying that when councils hear from lenders taking repossession action against local people this should prompt them to offer practical advice or support for residents struggling to keep their homes.
This could include directing them to free debt and legal advice, helping them apply for benefits such as Support for Mortgage Interest or, for the most vulnerable households, assessing them for the Mortgage Rescue Scheme.
But you will note that this is a letter from Mr Healey, not a code of guidance or anything that local authorities might actually be required to follow.
In short, we still don’t know what local authorities will do with the notifications and whether it makes any practical difference at all is entirely at the whim of the doubtless cash strapped housing departments and the authorities themselves.