After the great mortgage crisis nearly a decade ago, banks and lenders have been facing a lot of scrutiny. Injustices in lending practices are still common, but not like this one. A mother in England is having her home repossessed, even though she has never missed a mortgage payment. How is this possible?
It isn’t technically her house. That’s not a small detail. She’s made the payment on time, every time, for seven years, but the house isn’t in her name. It technically belonged to her partner, the father of her kids, a man to whom she was not married.
He died. The Co-op Bank which holds the loan began looking for ways to handle the situation. Now they have decided to repossess the house in Manchester.
Victoria McDonald, who is lives with her kids, isn’t happy with the decision. Her domestic partner, Jeffrey Sharpe, died without a will. This is the problem.
To make this more complex, the repossessed property is not the family’s residence. They live in another house that was also owned by Sharpe. The house that is being repossessed was an investment of sorts, and McDonald was making the payments.
The loan for the repossessed property was £64,775. There is still £54,000 to be repaid. These payments arrived on time, no problem.
“I have continued to pay the mortgage for seven years with help from my family,” McDonald said. “I have never missed a payment. At the end of the day it is for the children, and I didn’t want to sell it. I wanted to leave it for the kids when they were older, but the bank is making me sell it.”
“I have asked if they would let me put my name of on the mortgage, but they refused,” She added. “Last year I put it up for sale. I have dropped the price four times and eventually got an offer of £110,000 and took that.”
It is uncertain, though, if the sale will go through in time. The bank had initially given a deadline of Monday for repayment or repossession, something they now seem to have backed off of.
“The offer is going through but the deal will not be done by Monday. I think it is disgusting the way I have been treated. The money from the house was to go into a trust for the children, which they can access when they are 18.”
“This sad case illustrates that unmarried couples should always try to make a will and place each other on the mortgage,” David Huxley, McDonald’s lawyer, told The Mirror. “I find it astonishing that a bank which claims to be ethical would pursue a widow who has consistently paid the mortgage for many years after the death of her partner. She has no arrears.”
“If the bank successfully get a possession order and sell the property she will inevitably suffer a great financial loss. Meaning there is less money for her and four children.”
“Just because a bank is entitled legally to take a course of action does not mean that it should. This sorry case sounds like something out of a Charles Dickens novel. The only ethical solution here is for the bank to accept it has made a terrible mistake, abandon its court action and not claim for legal costs against the estate.”
The Co-operative Bank, the Dickensian villains in this piece, have a decidedly corporate perspective on the matter. “When a customer dies,” they said, “we follow the standard probate procedure, which usually involves the settlement of any outstanding debts from an estate and/or the transfer of assets to the beneficiaries of an estate.”
“In this case, the timescales in settling the estate are significantly longer than is normally expected which is why legal proceedings began to resolve this matter. We only take legal action when all other options have been fully explored. The court gave the executors six months to sell the property, which is why the case was due to be heard in court on Monday, June 19.”
“In light of the impending sale of this property, we have requested an indefinite adjournment of the case to allow time for the sale to go through and the mortgage to be settled as part of the proceeds from the sale.”