Priority and non priority debts

Some debts are more important than others. Knowing which debts should take priority can help you to keep your home.

Priority debts

Some debts are called priority debts because there are more serious consequences if you don't pay them.

Priority debts include:

  • rent arrears
  • mortgage and secured loan arrears
  • gas and electricity debts
  • council tax

If you don't pay

You could lose your home if you can't pay off rent or mortgage arrears.  

You could be disconnected if you can't pay gas or electricity debts. 

Or you could be moved to a prepayment meter which costs more.

You should always deal with priority debts before non priority debts.

Non-priority debts

Non-priority debts include:

  • credit card debts
  • payday loans  
  • catalogues
  • water bills
  • unsecured bank loans

If you don't pay

There are less serious consequences if you can't pay these debts.

They still affect your credit rating and you could still face legal action if you don't deal with them.

A non priority debt can become a priority if you're a homeowner and a county court judgment (CCJ) is made against you. The company or person you owe money to might apply for a charging order which could put your home at risk.

Get help with debt problems

A specialist debt adviser could help you to:

  • claim benefits
  • manage your money
  • prioritise your debts
  • draw up a financial statement
  • negotiate with lenders and other creditors

Find out where to get help with debts


Last updated 19 December 2019 | © Shelter

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