Absolute Nightmare

I knew we were having some financial issues at home but today the s*** has literally hit the fan at 100mph.

I was aware last year that there were a few missed payments on Mum's mortgage (She got the house in the divorce settlement from my Dad around 2001 - Mortgage payments then £150/month, now: £450/month)

Dad was self employed on a very good salary that we were considering upsizing the house until they divorced.

Since then it's all gone wrong. Just found out several things;

-Mortgage hasn't been paid in 4 months (despite my sister giving mum the money to pay it every month)
-She's spent £350 in one month on 3 different gambling websites.
-She owes money to the Gas Company (We're on a meter and they take around £3.50 for every £5 we put on)
-She owes money on Council Tax.
-She owes around £200 each to BT and Orange.

There's probably more but that's all I know for now. I have no idea what to do, she's unemployed and has been for ages, struggling to even get temp work due to the fact theres so many applicants and she's had some awful issues with her two previous employers.

My eldest sister who moved out years ago is trying to help out but she doesnt have authorisation to talk about the debts with all of the companies. Fortunately, despite several letters by my mum being ignored, the mortgage company say we still have an option of working with a Debt Management Company (I have no idea what that entails and whether it'll be truly "working with" them). They're coming round on Wednesday.

Cant get hold of the council, who are trying to take it to court, we've had bailiffs round previously but managed to borrow money to keep it, which I thought had been paid off but actually hadn't, as she wasnt paid outstanding wages by a previous employer, but I think the company has now actually gone bust.

I know that's a lot to read, but I imagine thats not truly the half of it and I dont have any idea what I can do to help. Any serious suggestions welcome..
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  • RAS
    RAS Posts: 32,457
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    Hi

    Do NOT sign up for anything the Debt Management Company come with on Wednesday. Under no circumstances.

    You need to get hold of Shelter about the arrears and to speak to one of the debt CHARITIES - not a debt managment company. CAP do home visits.

    if you live in the house, you and your siblings who still live there are jointly and severally liable for Council Tax.

    If the mortgage payments have gone up from £150 to £450, then mum has been probably taking capital from the house to cover old debts.

    Download the basic information on the mortgage from the Land Registry for £4.

    Mum can sign a waiver allowing any member of the family to talk to the creditors or a power of attorney to give control to one of you.

    But if she is gambling, none of this may work.
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • Tixy
    Tixy Posts: 31,455 Forumite
    Hi

    Do you think mum is ready to accept help from you / your sister? Has she admitted the gambling problem?
    Who is there living at home?
    I would suggest she talks to one of the debt advice charities to discuss her options. Be wary about the debt management company who are coming round - she doesn't want to be signing up to anything that will charge her fees. A lot of commercial companies will run a DMP (debt management program) for her but for a monthly fee, wheras a charity will do the same for free.
    The mortgage and council tax are priorities first.

    What income does mum have coming in? have you checked she is getting any benefits she is entitled to? what do you / sister (if she lives at home) contribute to the mum?
    Can you try to draw up a statement of affairs to see how if she can meet all her costs each month (exluding the arrears)? and then see what is left to put towards debts each month?

    Has she taken some advice on the gambling - try to get her to exclude herself from the sites she is using online.
    A smile enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give
    or "It costs nowt to be nice"
  • JDC14
    JDC14 Posts: 436 Forumite
    RAS wrote: »
    Hi

    Do NOT sign up for anything the Debt Management Company come with on Wednesday. Under no circumstances.

    You need to get hold of Shelter about the arrears and to speak to one of the debt CHARITIES - not a debt managment company. CAP do home visits.

    if you live in the house, you and your siblings who still live there are jointly and severally liable for Council Tax.

    If the mortgage payments have gone up from £150 to £450, then mum has been probably taking capital from the house to cover old debts.

    Download the basic information on the mortgage from the Land Registry for £4.

    Mum can sign a waiver allowing any member of the family to talk to the creditors or a power of attorney to give control to one of you.

    But if she is gambling, none of this may work.
    Okay - but why should I not sign up to what they suggest? Would it make things worse?

    I will look into them now and see what can be arranged, thank you.

    Why are we liable for the countil tax out of interest? I was not aware of this, I thought it was a tax on the homeowner?

    Yes, I think she took out a loan offered at a cheaper rate to clear old debts, then failed to clear old debts.

    She WAS gambling, mostly through boredom of not having any work for weeks and every gamblers dream of a big win. That's now over, I'm in the process of finding a program to block those sites, Or even just disabling the wireless chip so she doesnt get internet.
  • JDC14
    JDC14 Posts: 436 Forumite
    Tixy wrote: »
    Hi

    Do you think mum is ready to accept help from you / your sister? Has she admitted the gambling problem?
    Who is there living at home?
    I would suggest she talks to one of the debt advice charities to discuss her options. Be wary about the debt management company who are coming round - she doesn't want to be signing up to anything that will charge her fees. A lot of commercial companies will run a DMP (debt management program) for her but for a monthly fee, wheras a charity will do the same for free.
    The mortgage and council tax are priorities first.

    What income does mum have coming in? have you checked she is getting any benefits she is entitled to? what do you / sister (if she lives at home) contribute to the mum?
    Can you try to draw up a statement of affairs to see how if she can meet all her costs each month (exluding the arrears)? and then see what is left to put towards debts each month?

    Has she taken some advice on the gambling - try to get her to exclude herself from the sites she is using online.

    Help of what kind? Eldest sister is going through it all and arranging to speak with companies on her behalf, and my other sister believed she was paying the mortgage although she's now arranging to have it paid out of her account to ensure it's paid and I've put what I can towards it, which admittedly isn't alot, but it's all I had.

    We're in the process of finding that out, I dont know the exact date of my final exam for college as that hasnt been released yet, so they rejected her initial update for child tax credits (I think?) so we've resubmitted the form with a letter saying we dont know the exact date but it will be June or July.

    I'll look into a debt advice charity and obviously make the suggestion to her and my sister, but obviously take any advice on board on Wednesday but decline to sign up to anything - although I'm not sure how that'll look to the mortgage company?

    Mum has no income bar the benefits, £72.50 a week I think, we're trying to sort out some odd little jobs like ironing or cleaning even if it only brings in a little. My sister pays the mortgage and I contribute around £40 a week, although thats not a concrete deal, its really just handouts where I bring home a meal one night a week or put the money on the gas/electric meter. (We only owe money to gas, not electric, I think we opted to go onto the meter for electric also to avoid the extra debt).

    I will try and sit down with her and do it, or get my sister too, but she's never entirely honest about it, which makes it so difficult to help, then just makes ridiculous comments about driving into a wall or something. I don't think she's truly suicidal, but theres definitely a lot of pressure there.
  • RAS
    RAS Posts: 32,457
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    Thias is the list of debt charities http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/loans/debt-help-plan#help

    You/Mum can ring NDL or CCCS until mid-eveing tonight.
    JDC14 wrote: »
    Okay - but why should I not sign up to what they suggest? Would it make things worse?

    Because there will be massive fees attached to whatever she agrees. something like 15-20 percent.

    I will look into them now and see what can be arranged, thank you.

    Why are we liable for the countil tax out of interest? I was not aware of this, I thought it was a tax on the homeowner?

    Council tax is the joint and several responsiblity of all the adults lving in a house. Means you all owe the whole lot.
    JDC14 wrote: »
    Yes, I think she took out a loan offered at a cheaper rate to clear old debts, then failed to clear old debts.

    She WAS gambling, mostly through boredom of not having any work for weeks and every gamblers dream of a big win. That's now over, I'm in the process of finding a program to block those sites, Or even just disabling the wireless chip so she doesnt get internet.

    Consolidation rarely works. it is reckoned that 85% of people who do it wrack up more debt.

    However if the mortgage has gone up that much, then she has been taking out more than one loan.
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • hallowitch
    hallowitch Posts: 1,286
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    Cant get hold of the council, who are trying to take it to court,
    can you explain this are they now taking your mother to court for this years council tax

    we've had bailiffs round previously but managed to borrow money to keep it, which I thought had been paid off but actually hadn't,

    there must have been a liability order(s) granted if the bailiffs have been to her home

    I assume you paid the bailiffs when you pay a bailiff they take there fees first (legally they can do this) ask mum if the bailiff has ever been in her home to levy goods ? did they give her a notice of seizure of goods and inventory listing her goods ? how many did they leave her (if there is more than one liability order)

    you must find out from the council
    how many liability orders there are
    the amount of each liability order
    the liable year each liability order relates to
    Amount outstanding to date
    they may not tell her this over the phone but ask anyway
    ask them what bailiff fees have been added to each account
    the reason for the fee
    the date each fee was added (on all accounts)

    Bailiff fees for collecting council are set by legislation (this does not stop the bailiff trying it on with unlawful fees )


    can you tell me what bailiff firm it is ?
    If its Equita can you tell me what council it is (send by PM if you don't want to put it on the main board)
    send this to the council revenues department and the bailiff firm concerned (if there is more than one liability order put all account no )
    Name
    Address
    Bailiff Ref: Account No: 123456
    Council Ref No: 435672
    Date
    Dear Sir,
    With reference to the above account please provide me with a breakdown of all fees charged and payments made for the above account
    This includes:
    a - the time & date of any Bailiff action that incurred a Fee.
    b - The reason for the fee.
    c - The name(s) of the Bailiff(s) that attended on each occasion a Fee was charged.
    d - The name(s) of the Court(s) the Bailiff(s) was/were certificated at.
    e - The date of the Certification.
    This is not a Subject access request under the Data Protection Act S7 1998 so does not incur a fee of £10.
    The National Standards for Enforcement Agents state that if a written request is made an itemised account of fees will be provided.
    Please provide the information requested within 14 days of this E-mail /recorded delivery letter
    Yours faithfully
    Ripped off customer"

    I am not an expert I am self taught i have no legal training any information I post is based on my own personal experience and information gained from other web sites


    If you are in any doubt please seek legal/expert advice help
  • JDC14
    JDC14 Posts: 436 Forumite
    RAS wrote: »
    Thias is the list of debt charities http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/loans/debt-help-plan#help

    You/Mum can ring NDL or CCCS until mid-eveing tonight.



    Council tax is the joint and several responsiblity of all the adults lving in a house. Means you all owe the whole lot.



    Consolidation rarely works. it is reckoned that 85% of people who do it wrack up more debt.

    However if the mortgage has gone up that much, then she has been taking out more than one loan.
    Okay, I will make sure she's onto a charity by tomorrow afternoon at the latest.

    I'm not aware of the full facts of consolidation but it did sound a little too easy and I'm not surprised it has that effect.

    She's only taken out one loan (around £80k) against the house, to clear debts, and then whatever was left on the mortgage previously (not a lot).

    The divorce, I know left my parents with around £15k in legal fees (each I believe) it was a very long, drawn out messy divorce. So some of the loan went on that, £20k to clear debts across a few credit cards. It was ridiculous, but Im pretty sure she doesnt owe a penny to a credit card company now, nor does she own one, (moreover, probably couldnt get one.)

    So, the main concerns are;
    1. Mortgage - In touch with them about the issue, getting payments back on track, I'll try add to payments wherever I can.

    2. Council Tax - A message has been left, would prefer to avoid the court date if possible and arrange a payment scheme with the council itself rather than an external company.

    3. Gas - Over £1k I believe. So we're asking the Gas Company if they can lower the payments we make over the winter period, due to the need of the heating and we'll set up a DD along side whatever is taken from the meter.

    4. BT - Not a major issue, we dont have any of their products and although high speed broadband would be nice, it's not essential. It's a debt of around £180, so I'll look to try and help out by clearing that myself if possible in installments.

    5. Orange - Outstanding debt, from years ago. Wasn't aware of it personally, think it may be to do with an issue of them charging where they shouldnt have done, then nobody contacting each other about it after we queried and when they didnt give in straight away, mum must've hoped it'd go away. So I'll get onto them myself as I have another account with them for my phone.


    Credit wise for me and my sister (living here);

    She's been to Uni and around the world, so the overdraft has been obviously used at times, but on student accounts, shouldnt have too much effect. Otherwise, she's paid all DD's etc on time, and is in a full-time job.

    I've got a credit card, and an okay credit record. I've had no late payments and have been into my Natwest Overdraft twice, although once they waived the fee as they paid a Standing Order they shouldn't have done. The other one hasn't shown on my record but I think it can appear up to 3 months later?

    Either way, getting ourselves into debt isn't going to be a good idea to get her out of it, but there's extra little cushions there if required.
  • RAS
    RAS Posts: 32,457
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    edited 31 October 2011 at 3:41PM
    JDC14 wrote: »
    Mum has no income bar the benefits, £72.50 a week I think, we're trying to sort out some odd little jobs like ironing or cleaning even if it only brings in a little. My sister pays the mortgage and I contribute around £40 a week, although thats not a concrete deal, its really just handouts where I bring home a meal one night a week or put the money on the gas/electric meter. (We only owe money to gas, not electric, I think we opted to go onto the meter for electric also to avoid the extra debt).

    So has your mother even applied for housing support?

    Sadly she may only get help with the interest payments on the initial mortage, not on any second charge on the house, so this may not cover everything. There would be an assumption about how much help your sister was providing and the assumption (once your CTC claim is sorted) that you contribute nothing. This assumes that the three of you live together.

    Check www.turn2us.org.uk or speak to one of the debt charities I listed and they may be able to help.

    With respect to the Debt Management Company, it may be better to ring and cancel and tell them you are contacting CCCS. They will say they can do more, but they cant and they will charge a lot of money she does not have. You can always say you will get back in touch once you have spoken to the debt charity.
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • RAS
    RAS Posts: 32,457
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    RAS wrote: »
    Council tax is the joint and several responsiblity of all the adults lving in a house. Means you all owe the whole lot.

    If you are still a student, then you are not liable at the moment.
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • hallowitch
    hallowitch Posts: 1,286
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    5. Orange - Outstanding debt, from years ago. Wasn't aware of it personally, think it may be to do with an issue of them charging where they shouldn't have done, then nobody contacting each other about it after we queried and when they didn't give in straight away, mum must've hoped it'd go away. So I'll get onto them myself as I have another account with them for my phone.


    If there hasn't been a payment to this debt in 6 years it could be statute barred I'm not sure how exactly how it works (others will know) but find out before you do anything with this debt

    most gambling sites (bingo poker ect) have a function to self Bar yourself
    I am not an expert I am self taught i have no legal training any information I post is based on my own personal experience and information gained from other web sites


    If you are in any doubt please seek legal/expert advice help
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