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Worried about mortgage arrears?

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Mortgage arrears. What to do if you’re struggling with repayments

If you have mortgage arrears it means you’re behind with your payments. Missed mortgage payments are recorded on your credit file and if you don’t pay what you owe, you’re at risk of your house being repossessed.

Find out how we can help you get the help you need if you’re worried about falling behind with your monthly payments.

household bills iconHelp with the financial impact of coronavirus


A number of measures are being rolled out to help people who are struggling financially because of coronavirus. These include mortgage payment breaks and payment holidays for credit cards, changes to overdraft charges and the extension of the moratorium period for debts for people in Scotland.

Read our guides:

Can't pay your mortgage? We're here to help

Need debt advice?

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What happens if you don’t pay your mortgage on time?

Firstly, the mortgage provider will contact you to find out why your payment hasn’t come through. At this point, they should give you the opportunity to get your payments back on track.

Although many of us fear our homes being repossessed, repossession is always a last resort.

When you contact your lender they'll:

  1. Give you the option to pay what you owe in full.
  2. Consider an agreement to pay the arrears in instalments, if you can’t pay the full amount.

They may take further action to collect the debt, if you fail to keep to your payment arrangement.

wallet iconYou may be charged a penalty fee for a late payment, so you should check your mortgage agreement.

Options your lender may discuss with you

Switching to an interest-only mortgage

This isn’t a long-term solution because you’d only be repaying the interest part of the mortgage. You need to make sure that you can also repay the ‘capital’ (the original amount borrowed) at some point before the end of the term.

Extending the term of your mortgage

This will reduce your monthly payments, helping to make them more affordable. You should consider whether you’d realistically be able to continue repaying the mortgage over a longer period of time, particularly if this would be after your retirement.

Giving you a payment holiday

This means you’d have a break from paying your mortgage for a few months. You’d need to catch up with these payments before your mortgage term ends. It’s possible that your lender will still charge interest during the payment holiday, which would mean you’d pay back more overall.

Helping you with an assisted voluntary sale scheme

Your lender may offer an assisted voluntary sale scheme. This means they will give you extra time and help if you decide to sell your property.

Recommending government mortgage help

In some cases, you can get government mortgage help with your mortgage payments. This is called Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).

How I can clear my mortgage arrears?

The first step to repaying your mortgage arrears is to create a budget so you have a clear understanding of your finances.

  1. List all your income, spending and debts.
  2. See if there’s any money left over after you’ve covered all your household bills and living costs. This is the amount you can afford to pay towards your mortgage arrears.
  3. Look into ways to increase your income and reduce your spending so you can pay off your arrears more quickly.

Contact your lender to agree to a new payment plan. Give them a copy of your budget to show them you’re paying as much as you can afford.

If you’re worried about not being able to afford your monthly payments, get in touch with us for free, personalised debt advice.

How long do mortgage arrears stay on a credit file?

All missed, late or partial payments are recorded on your credit file for at least six years. Find out more about debt and credit files.

Can I sell my house with mortgage arrears?

Yes you can, and sometimes that’s the best option if there’s no other way to pay what you owe. However, you do need to consider if this would be the best option for you. It might not be suitable if:

  • You’re in negative equity, meaning the property is worth less than you owe to the lender
  • You’d have to rent a home with higher monthly payments
  • You’re considering going ahead with an insolvency solution, such as bankruptcy. The person overseeing any bankruptcy (called the official receiver) may look into the sale when they investigate your insolvency, especially if you sold the house for significantly below market value

Worried about your home being repossessed?

If you’re at risk of your home being repossessed, it’s important to get expert advice as early as possible. We can help you with debt problems, but we strongly recommend you contact Shelter, or Housing Rights if you live in Northern Ireland. They offer practical support for anyone struggling with housing difficulties.

Who are we?

  • UK's leading debt charity
  • Over 25 years' experience
  • Free, impartial advice & managed debt solutions

How we help

Free help and advice if you can’t pay your mortgage

We can help you create a budget and work out what you can afford to pay towards your mortgage arrears.

Use our online debt advice tool to create a tailored budget and to receive a personalised action plan.

Or call us (free from all landlines and mobiles) and speak to our expert advisors.