A COUPLE could be forced to sell their £300,000 cottage in Wiltshire to repay a £145,000 mortgage they took out to buy a holiday flat in Spain. Their nightmare case was reported yesterday in the MailOnline website.
Last year, when repayments became difficult, the couple contacted the bank and offered to return the apartment to them. But the bank refused to accept it and instigated efforts to seize their home in the UK.
Banco de Sabadell, the bank that loaned the couple a £145,000 mortgage to buy a holiday flat, is using a European Enforcement Order (EEO) to take control of their three-bedroom home near Chippenham in Wiltshire, where the couple have lived for 20 years.
An EEO is intended to be used for uncontested claims in civil cases across EU borders. However, evidence has come to light that Spanish officials have stretched the meaning of ‘uncontested’ to enable banks to fast-track claims on UK property.
The couple first learnt about the bank’s plan when they received an ‘interim charging order’ from a county court. An interim charging order is the first step in registering an interest in someone else’s property, usually because of a bad debt, and it could lead to the possible forced sale of the couple’s home.
According to an EC spokesman, the bank was under no obligation to notify debtors and that, in principle, no appeal is possible against the issuing of an EEO. Their financial crisis means that they cannot afford this.
The couple have been advised that they cannot appeal against the order in the UK. European law allows them to challenge it, but only in a Spanish court.
The couple are naturally devastated – there could be many thousands of Brits in a similar position to themselves. On Tuesday, the county court at Trowbridge is due to make the interim charging order on their property absolute, after which Banco de Sabadell may force the sale at any time.