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Two in five people uncomfortable speaking to their mortgage lender or landlord about budget pressures

25 September 2023

Housing costs are a source of concern to many, yet around two in five people would potentially feel reluctant to discuss their budget pressures with their landlord or mortgage lender, according to new research.

The new poll of UK adults, conducted by YouGov on behalf of StepChange Debt Charity, found that two fifths (39%) of people who rent or have a mortgage are uncomfortable when it comes to seeking advice and support with their finances from their lender or landlord, or discussing their budget pressures. This proportion is markedly higher for those in the private rented sector (PRS) compared to those with a mortgage.

The polling found that:

  • Of those who rent or have a mortgage, 39% would be very uncomfortable or somewhat uncomfortable speaking to their lender or landlord about budget pressures.
  • For mortgage holders, the proportion is just under a third (30%) and for renters in the private rented sector it rises to over half (55%).
  • Almost one fifth (18%) of people who have a mortgage or rent were unsure of who they would be most likely to speak to if they had financial issues, with the number rising to 25% for private renters. For mortgage holders, 1 in 10 (11%) were unsure of who to speak to for help.

With the crisis in housing affordability worsening due to high inflation and the steep rise in interest rates, impacting both tenants and mortgage holders, the financial pressures of the past 18 months have led to StepChange seeing an 18% year-on-year rise in client volumes, a trend which is similarly echoed across the debt advice sector.

For those struggling with mortgage payments and social rent, lenders and social landlords have a regulatory responsibility to treat customers and tenants fairly and must follow a series of steps to prevent someone in financial difficulty from losing their home. However, tenants in the private rented sector (PRS) are not afforded the same protections.

Free debt advice charities like StepChange can help people who have fallen behind or are worried about how they will pay their rent or mortgage. The charity recently launched a new homeowner hub providing a one-stop-shop for those mortgage holders who are seeking advice and guidance in the face of financial hardship. For private and social renters, StepChange’s website has lots of information about support which is out there from partner organisations such as Shelter.

Vikki Brownridge, CEO of StepChange Debt Charity, said:

“We know from our experiences with clients that it can take someone a long time to open up and seek help if they’re struggling with their finances, and it can be especially daunting to discuss debt problems with the people you owe money to. However, lenders and social landlords are required to support their customers who are facing financial hardship, which is especially vital during the ongoing cost of living crisis.

“Charities like StepChange offer free, impartial debt advice, and our trained advisors are on hand to talk you through your options and your budget. We have dedicated teams able to speak to anyone experiencing problem debt, regardless of their housing tenure, and assess their options depending on their personal circumstances. Our new homeowner hub provides a one-stop-shop for mortgage-based advice and support, and we have extensive experience supporting private tenants.”

Notes to Editors

  1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,986 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1st - 3rd September 2023.The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

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