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Mortgage stress handbook

2. Is my problem urgent?

Your right to make a repayment arrangement depends on where the lender is up to in the process to take possession of your home. Chapter 3 describes the steps the lender must take to get possession of your home.

To work out what to do next you need to know:

  1. Has a default notice been sent to you? The default notice must give you at least 30 days to repay the arrears (the amount you are behind in repayments plus your normal repayment due that month).
  2. Have you received a Statement of Claim or Summons from the Court for possession of your home and/or the amount outstanding on your home loan? If so when did you receive the Statement of Claim/Summons?
  3. Has the lender obtained judgment from the Court? If you received Court documents some time ago, check with the Court to see if the lender has obtained judgment. The lender can apply for judgment at any time after the time for response to the Court proceedings has expired. Details for contacting the Court will be on the Court documents. You will need to tell the Court Officer some details included in the Court paperwork, so make sure you have it with you when you ring. A list of Court contacts appears at Useful contacts, Chapter 14.
  4. Have you received a notice from the Court telling you to vacate your home?

Remember! Remember

If any of the previous 4 steps has occurred your matter is urgent. If the lender has not obtained judgment you need to see Chapters 6 and 7 immediately. If the lender has judgment, get legal advice (see Chapter 14 for Useful contacts) and see Chapter 12.

Dispute resolution

All home loan lenders must now be members of an approved free dispute resolution scheme. (In fact all lenders who give consumer credit loan—such as credit cards and personal loans or loans for investment in residential property must be members). There are two schemes:
  1. Financial Ombudsman Service ph: 1300 78 08 08
    www.fos.org.au
  2. Credit Ombudsman Service ph: 1800 138 422
    www.cosl.com.au.

Using a dispute resolution scheme is the best way for you to resolve your financial hardship dispute with your lender. This handbook will refer to dispute resolution throughout as it is the most important right you have.

If you are unsure where you are up to in the repossession process you should consider lodging a dispute with a dispute resolution scheme immediately because:
  • dispute resolution schemes are free
  • The lender cannot start or continue legal action while your matter is being considered by a dispute resolution scheme
  • It will give you an opportunity to negotiate with the lender (with the assistance of the dispute resolution scheme)

You cannot raise a dispute or get financial hardship assistance from a dispute resolution scheme after the lender has obtained judgment from a Court. You may be able to seek assistance for other disputes but not if the dispute relates to the judgment. So if you have received court documents you must consider lodging a dispute with a dispute resolution scheme immediately.