Dealing with mortgage arrears
If you fall into arrears (debt) with your mortgage payments, it’s important to be proactive and contact your lender rather than waiting for your lender to contact you. They’ll normally write to you within 15 days of a missed payment, but you should talk to them as soon as possible. It’s important to work out what you can afford, and you can use a budgeting tool to do this – or get in touch with us, and we’ll help you. Once you’ve determined how much you can pay, you can speak with your lender to discuss the different ways of paying off your arrears.
Speaking to your mortgage provider about arrears
- Don’t wait for your lender to contact you – talk to them as soon as possible.
- Work out exactly what you can afford – you’ll need to inform your lender about how much you can afford to pay back. If you’re struggling to make repayments and need help to pay off your debts, then get in touch with one of our expert advisers today. They’ll be able to help you understand your budget and tell you all the options that are available to you to pay off your debts.
- If you’ve got payment protection insurance (PPI), double-check whether you might be covered for mortgage arrears (this will depend on your situation).
- Your lender will talk you through your options for paying back your mortgage arrears.
The Mortgage Charter
The Government, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and many mortgage lenders have agreed to make commitments to support mortgage holders. These commitments form the Mortgage Charter, which was announced in June 2023. It’s important to note that this support will only be available if your provider agreed to the Charter.
Some of the support announced includes:
- If you’re worried about being able to make repayments, you can contact your provider for help and guidance without affecting your credit score
- You can switch to a new fixed-rate deal with your current provider without having a credit check
- borrowers won’t be forced to leave their property without their consent until at least one year after their first missed payment
Read our blog article on the Mortgage Charter to find out more about what support is available and who’s eligible.
What to do if your mortgage lender takes you to court
If you fall behind on your mortgage, your lender could take you to Court to have your house repossessed. You’ll get a Possession Claim Form (known as an N5) with the date and time of the hearing. You need to attend.
If you want to stay living in the house, you need to fill in a form known as N11M and send it back to the Court to explain how you can afford to keep living in the property, pay the mortgage and afford a payment to the mortgage arrears.
There’s an important case law that states you can ask to pay the mortgage arrears back over the remaining term of your mortgage. This is called Norgan v Cheltenham & Gloucester.
If you can’t afford to clear the arrears quickly, and only have a small amount of money available for the arrears, you can ask the Judge to suspend the repossession on the grounds of Norgan v Cheltenham & Gloucester.
Help from family or friends
Is there someone who could help reduce your mortgage arrears by paying a lump sum, such as family or friends? If so, make this offer to your mortgage lender before the Court hearing, or, if there isn’t sufficient time beforehand, show the Court that you have additional funds available, when they’ll be available to be paid and where they’re coming from. Ensure that you make the payment as agreed.
Other options to consider
If this isn’t an option, could you increase your household income to afford the mortgage and the arrears, as well as all other essential household expenses? For example, could you rent a room out and get a lodger, or could you take an additional job?
Requesting time to sell your property
If you can’t increase your income, there’s no one who could help you to clear the arrears or you can’t prove you can afford to cover all the essential household expenses, you could ask the Court to allow you time to sell the property, if there’s equity within the property, as it’s very likely that you could achieve a better sale price than if the property was repossessed and then sold. Equity is the difference between what the house is worth and the amount of mortgage you owe on the property).
If this is your option, have the property valued, provide proof that it’s on the market (take the estate agent’s information and sale details to the court) and ask the Judge to grant you time to sell. Most courts will allow you a period of time in which to sell the house but you must ensure you do everything you can to sell within a reasonable time (possibly three months). Once the property sells, you’ll have to clear the outstanding mortgage including any mortgage arrears and any other charges against the property, as well as any remaining money after selling costs, which would also be yours.
If your lender won’t allow you to sell because the house is worth less than the outstanding mortgage, you should seek advice as soon as possible. You may decide simply to hand the keys back and find alternative accommodation. Please speak to us here at PayPlan first and seek advice before doing this.
Once your property has been repossessed by the lender, they’ll put it on the market to sell. They should ensure they get the best price possible. Once the sale has gone through, they’ll deduct all outstanding mortgage debt, legal costs and sale fees and, if there’s any money left over, it’ll be given to you. If there isn’t sufficient money to clear everything, you may be left with what’s known as a Mortgage Shortfall, which you’ll be liable to repay. Speak to us about help to repay this.
Renting out a room in your home
The Rent a Room Scheme lets you earn up to £7,500 per year tax-free. This is halved if you share the income with your partner or someone else. You can let out as much of your home as you want.
Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI)
If you’re a homeowner, you may be able to get help towards interest payments on your mortgage or home improvement/repair loans. This is a loan which will need to be paid back, with interest, when you sell or transfer ownership of your home (unless you decide to move the loan to another property). Usually, you’ll need to be in receipt of a qualifying benefit – such as Universal Credit – to receive this support. You can read the full eligibility criteria here.
A product transfer is a good option if you have had a change in circumstances since you took out your last mortgage.
The advantages are that a new lender may be offering a more competitive rate especially if you have been with your existing lender for a while and your property value has increased. The disadvantage is that it can take several weeks to complete, and sometimes new rates can attract expensive booking fees.
Extending the term
Another option if you are struggling financially is to consider extending the mortgage term. This may be possible depending on your age and personal circumstances. This is only beneficial if you have a repayment mortgage.
The longer the term of your mortgage, the lower the monthly repayments. However, the more interest you will pay in the long term.
Equity release is a way of raising money from the value of your home without having to move out. The loan is repaid later, usually after you die or move permanently into a care home. In some schemes, you take out a mortgage on your home but make no repayments.
If you start finding yourself unable to cope with the current situation another option could be to downsize to a smaller property.
A mortgage payment holiday is an agreement at the lender’s discretion allowing you to temporarily stop or reduce your monthly mortgage repayments.
If you’re considering using a loan shark
We understand nearly 2m households missed payments at the end of last year, with energy bills at the top of the list.
Loan sharks are criminals who lend money at extortionate rates of interest and control or even threaten their borrowers to ensure they pay. Victims of loan sharks can end up trapped in an endless cycle of debt for years, often with devastating consequences.
At PayPlan, we’re proud to be the first national debt advice provider to achieve partner recognition status with Stop Loan Sharks England and The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) for our work in raising awareness about loan sharks and helping customers access essential support services.
IMLT state that “loan sharks create an environment of fear, intimidation and control for their victims and will use almost any means to tempt people into taking out a loan with them. They know how to spot people who are vulnerable and who need money.
“This creates a vicious cycle of debt for those unable to pay back their loans and often leads to serious financial issues, such as families losing their homes or being pushed into extreme poverty because they don’t have enough money to survive.”
Our debt advisers are well-equipped to help customers who have experienced illegal money lending. They can identify those at risk of loan sharking practices and safely refer victims to confidential support services.
You can speak to Stop Loan Sharks England on 0300 555 2222.
Please note BudgetSmart has been created to provide you with information but it’s important to always do your own research too. Whilst BudgetSmart contains links to third party websites we think you might find useful, PayPlan is not responsible for any external content or any actions you take when accessing these links/websites