How to deal with mortgage arrears

Mortgage arrears don't automatically lead to your home being repossessed. Act quickly and take control before mortgage arrears put your home at risk.

Get advice now

Get advice now if you've received a letter from your mortgage lender threatening court action for repossession or a letter from the court giving you a hearing date.

Find out how to get legal advice now and find out what you can do if you are facing repossession.

Make mortgage arrears a priority

If you fall behind on your mortgage payments, you need to take steps to avoid court action to repossess your home.

Don't wait until your mortgage arrears become unmanageable. Your lender is more likely to consider other options if you negotiate at an early stage. Mortgage problems can often be resolved without going to court.

Your lender may charge a fee if you are behind with your mortgage payments.

If your case goes to court, your lender will charge you for their legal costs. This is usually added to your mortgage.

Talk to your lender about arrears

It's important to talk to your lender as soon as possible if you are worried about paying your mortgage.

Answer your lender's phone calls or letters. There may be a solution if you discuss it with your lender.

Even if you don't know what to do about your arrears, it is still important to speak to your lender. Let your lender know that you are taking steps to put things right, and then get specialist housing or debt advice.

Find out more about legal advice for repossession.

Pay some of your mortgage arrears

Paying your mortgage should be your top priority, even if you have other debts.

You must pay as much as you can towards your mortgage. This helps stop your arrears increasing. It also shows your lender that you are serious about dealing with the problem.

The more you get into mortgage arrears, the more likely you are to lose your home.

Work out your budget

If you want to stay in your home, you need to find a way to stop your arrears increasing and keep up with your future payments. You also need to pay off any arrears.

To deal with your mortgage problems, you could:

  • cut back on non-essential spending
  • increase your income, for example by working extra hours
  • check if you can claim support for mortgage interest
  • take in a lodger
  • switch to a flexible or cheaper rate mortgage
  • reduce your insurance costs

Check if you can claim benefits

Check if you're eligible to claim certain benefits if you're unemployed, have a low income or can't work due to health problems.

You may be eligible for tax credits if you have children or are working and have a low income.

Use the GOV.UK benefits calculator to find out more about benefits.

You may be able to apply for support for mortgage interest. These help with payment towards the interest of your mortgage, not the capital.

Keep to your agreement

Keep to any agreement you make with your mortgage lender.

If you don't keep to your agreement, it will be more difficult to negotiate with your lender in future.

Get advice if you have already negotiated an agreement but are having problems with it.

An adviser may be able to help you to persuade your lender to negotiate a change to the agreement.

Use Shelter's directory to find a housing adviser

Get advice from a specialist adviser

A specialist housing or debt adviser may be able to:

Use Shelter's directory to find a housing adviser

Be cautious about increasing your mortgage

If you have other debts as well as mortgage arrears, you may be tempted to take on a larger mortgage with another lender.

This may help you to clear your debts in the short-term but you could still have problems paying your mortgage in the future.

Get professional advice before you make your decision.

Find out more from the Money Advice Service about choosing a financial adviser.

Consider selling your home

If you can't find a way to deal with your mortgage problems or you want to leave anyway, you could try to sell your home and move somewhere more affordable.

Find out more about selling your home voluntarily.

Find a new home

If you need to find somewhere else to live, you could look for privately rented accommodation or apply for council housing.

Check if you're eligible for universal credit to help pay your rent.

Find out more about looking for a new home after repossession.

Voluntary repossession

Get advice before moving out of your home and handing your keys back to your mortgage lender.

This is called voluntary repossession and it's likely to increase your debts. You have to keep paying the mortgage until your home is sold.

If there is a shortfall in repaying the loan after the home has been sold, you're responsible for repaying the mortgage shortfall.

It will also be more difficult for you to get a mortgage in the future.

If you make a homeless application, your local council may decide that you made yourself intentionally homeless if you gave up your home.

Make a complaint about your mortgage lender

You can complain to your lender if you believe they treated you unfairly.

If you are not happy with their response you can complain to the Financial Services Ombudsman.

Find out more from Which? about making a complaint against your mortgage lender.

Last updated 29 Nov 2016 | © Shelter

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