Assets and Trust Deeds

Homeowners in Scotland can use a protected trust deed to deal with their debts. It helps them to deal with their unsecured debts. It can protect their home from unsecured creditors. You agree a monthly payment when you start your trust deed. This is a regular payment funded from your income. It’s the amount left over after your bills and reasonable expenses.

Trust deeds also take account of your assets. Your assets include the things you own today. They also include things you come to own before getting discharged, for example if you inherit a property. A house or flat you own may be an “asset”. If the property is worth more than your mortgage balance, you have “equity”.

You must agree to convey your interest in any assets to your trustee when you sign a trust deed in Scotland. This means the trustee may be able to take possession of and sell the asset in question.  In reality, assets can be safeguarded and it is very common to make an agreement whereby extra funds are paid in to the trust Deed in order that the asset remains unaffected. This applies to any significant asset you own, including vehicles.

It’s important to know that income and assets get treated separately. Your trustee considers how much you can pay from your income. They separately assess whether your assets can help to repay your debts. They’ll agree a plan with you to deal with your assets. This agreement gets put in writing for your reassurance and to avoid disputes.

If you’re a homeowner seeking trust deed advice please get in touch. We’ve been assisting property owners to enter protected trust deeds since 2007. You can contact us by telephone or by using our contact form.

The equity is your home’s value minus any secured mortgages. If your home is worth £100,000 and your mortgage is £90,000, your equity is £10,000. You can contact your mortgage lender to confirm your mortgage balance. They’ll provide you with a mortgage redemption statement. Property valuation estimates are available for free from websites like Zoopla. You could also enquire with local estate agents.

If your home is jointly-owned, you’ll normally own 50% of any equity. You’d normally have a £5,000 asset if your jointly-owned home has £10,000 of equity.

Your home may have little equity. This situation is usually quite simple. Some trust deed providers use an equity threshold of £5,000. Equity of £5,000 (or less) may effectively get ignored. This is because the selling costs for this property would wipe out any profit. Other firms use an equity threshold considerably higher than £5,000.

You’re in negative equity if your mortgage balance is higher than the value of your home. If you have negative equity, no asset vests in your trustee. Selling your home wouldn’t raise money for your creditors.

Before you proceed with your trust deed, the equity gets assessed. You provide mortgage redemption figures to the trustee. These details are easily obtained from your mortgage provider. Your trustee instructs a valuation of your property. This process is unlikely to involve a valuer coming inside your home.

If there is significant equity, you’ll agree with your trustee how it will be dealt with. The plan to deal with it is recorded in writing. There are several ways the equity could be dealt with:

• Extra Payments. You may agree to a repayment term lasting longer than four years. The extra payments are your contribution towards the equity in your home. This is the most common scenario.

• Third Party Payment. A relative might make a payment to the trustee. This could be a lump sum or regular monthly payments. Their money becomes your contribution for the equity. If you’re a joint-owner, your partner could make this payment.

• Sale of Property. Most people prefer to remain in their current home. However, you do have the option to sell it instead. Your share of the sale profit gets paid into your trust deed. A joint-owner would keep their share of the equity.

• Mortgage. It’s very unlikely that you’ll get a new mortgage during a trust deed. Raising equity from a new (larger) mortgage isn’t likely to be viable.

Equity in your property is “fixed” at the start of your trust deed. If the value of your property increases before you get discharged, it makes no difference. Your equity position remains fixed. The original agreement to deal with your equity remains in place

Most firms require that homeowners promise to pay an additional amount of around £500 or £550 into their Trust Deed even if there is very little or no equity in their home.


You may get told that your full equity doesn’t have to be paid over. With creditor disclosure, it’s agreed only part of the equity gets paid. Payment may come from an extension of your monthly payments.

A trustee has formed a view that this option is best for the creditors. For example, if the debtor became bankrupt the creditors would receive less. This is because both bankruptcy and forced house sale costs are high. This may seem an attractive option. The alternatives could be long-term plans like DAS or debt management.These debt solutions run until the debts are fully repaid.

This approach towards equity come with one big risk…

Equity agreements get made at the start of your trust deed. This is reassuring if you’re worried about losing your home because of your debts. These agreements are however conditional. You’re expected to complete the obligations you agreed to. These obligations last until your discharge.

If your protected trust deed fails, your equity agreement becomes null and void. This could happen if you fail to make your payments. It could happen if you don’t cooperate with your trustee. If either happen, your trustee might consider forcing the sale of your home instead, though this would be (of course) a last resort option.

You should get told about this small risk of losing your home at the start. If a firm hasn’t mentioned this to you, it’s not a good sign.

What’s your risk of failing to complete a trust deed? Is your job secure? Are you in good health? If you’re self-employed what’s the financial outlook for your business? Would you and your family be OK if you did lose your home? If these risks feel too high, consider different debt solutions. DAS may help to protect your home. Your unsecured creditors cannot take legal action against you. Your equity isn’t taking into account by the debt arrangement scheme.

What happens if you want to sell your house or flat prior to discharge? You can only sell your home if your trustee consents. Solicitors involved in a house sale will contact your trustee. They will have found the legal inhibition that your trustee has put in place. If the trustee doesn’t consent to a sale, the sale won’t happen.

The written equity agreement for your property ceases to apply. The trustee will require to receive all of your share of the net proceeds from the sale after your mortgage and secured loans are repaid. This will be used to help repay your creditors. Trust deed equity agreements don’t apply if your home actually gets sold.

Without any sale profits, you will have no deposit for a new purchase. In any case, we’re unaware of any mortgage lenders offering products to people before their discharge. You may therefore have to move to rented property. If you are moving house for work reasons, consider renting your home out instead. You are allowed to rent out your home while using a trust deed in Scotland.

If your home got repossessed, you may have a mortgage shortfall debt. A shortfall on your mortgage is an unsecured type of debt. The lender might not press for immediate repayment. However, they’ll look for payment in the future. This could occur many years in the future. Collection might be outsourced to a debt collection agency. The debt might be sold to a debt purchaser.

Mortgage shortfall debts get included in Scottish trust deeds. If you complete the arrangement, any unpaid mortgage shortfall amount gets written off.

You may be subject to current repossession action when signing your trust deed. You may expect a mortgage shortfall debt, but don’t yet know how much it will be. It’s not necessary to know the exact amount owed before you go ahead and sign.

This is called a “contingent debt”. You expect a new debt, but you don’t know how much it will be yet. Contingent debts get included in trust deeds in Scotland. The lender will need to submit a claim to your trustee. They’ll receive a dividend, like your other creditors do.

This applies even if you did not know this debt would arise. Provided the mortgage existed when your debt plan began, it gets included. The new shortfall will become an included creditor. The balance owed gets written-off if you complete your trust deed.

Remember to pay your mortgage payments during your protected trust deed. If you don’t, the mortgage lender may seek to repossess your home.

Your home might get repossessed after you’ve been discharged. Did the mortgage exist when your trust deed began? If so, any liability for a future shortfall debt likely got included. This usually applies even if your trustee is no longer involved in your case.

It might be too late for the mortgage lender to make a claim on your trust deed. This isn’t your problem. You shouldn’t usually be liable for the new shortfall debt. The mortgage lender may take some time to recognise this status. You may have to make a case to them explaining this situation. Get legal advice and representation if necessary.

What if you become bankrupt rather than entering a trust deed? Bankruptcy may offer less flexibility to deal with assets like your home. This applies in particular if you get made bankrupt as a result of creditor action. You’ll get assigned a trustee who will determine what happens with your home. If you cannot raise the equity by other means, a forced sale is likely.

There may be more flexibility if you appoint your own bankruptcy trustee. You’ll have an advance opportunity to discuss and agree a plan for your equity. It might be possible to arrange an equity plan that avoids the loss of your home.

Different insolvency firms address property equity in different ways. If you’ve taken advice already, we recommend getting a second opinion. You may get offered a better solution, such as a shorter trust deed.

We’ve been helping homeowners to start trust deeds since 2007. For expert confidential help, please get in touch.

Contact the experts

Kevin Mapstone

Trust Deed Expert

Paul McDougall

Trust Deed Expert