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Dealing with your mortgage arrears

This information applies to Scotland only

If you’ve been struggling to pay your mortgage, you may have started to build up a debt. You may have missed one or more monthly payments or be paying less money each month than you owe.

You will need to try and come to an agreement with your mortgage lender about how to deal with your mortgage arrears.

Second mortgages or secured loans

If you are having difficulty paying a second mortgage or other loan for which your property is used as security you will need to sort this out. This is known as a secured loan. The tactics and options on how to deal with arrears on a second mortgage or other secured loan are complicated because the law may be different from what applies to first mortgages. You should get advice from an experienced adviser.

It is important that you take all the documents about your second mortgage or secured loan to the adviser to help them work out the best solution. If you want to know a bit more about secured loans and regulations governing them there are guidelines about what rules apply to make sure consumers do not receive unfair or improper treatment. These details are on the Office of Fair Trading website at www.oft.gov.uk.

You can get specialist advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

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Work out your budget

Before you can come to an agreement about your mortgage arrears you should first work out how much you can afford to pay. Work out how much money you’ve got coming in and what your other outgoings are - including payments for other debts. You may find it helpful to ask an experienced debt adviser to help you do this, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

If you want to work through this yourself go to the Budget Sheet fact sheet [Adobe Acrobat Document 41 KB] or use some of the self-help debt packs on www.nationaldebtline.co.uk/scotland.

Remember you will have to discuss with your lender both how you are going to deal with the mortgage arrears and also how you are going to afford the ongoing mortgage costs.

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Options for dealing with the arrears

You will need to decide how you want to deal with the arrears. You may have several options for doing this, including:

  • paying an extra amount towards the arrears each month on top of your regular monthly mortgage payments but make sure you only do this if you can afford to. Don’t neglect other priority debts
  • arranging to have the arrears added to the capital outstanding on the mortgage (capitalising the arrears) and paying it back over the remaining period of the mortgage. You could also ask to extend the term of the mortgage in order to keep your monthly payments down. This means, you will end up paying a larger amount in total. Get advice from an experienced adviser about how this may impact on benefits claimed by yourself or someone else in the household
  • giving up your endowment policy or selling it off to an investor. This will provide you with a lump sum of money which you can use to help pay off your mortgage arrears. Get independent financial advice first
  • raising a lump sum to pay off all the arrears in one go. You could do this, for example, by borrowing money. However, you should be careful not to get yourself deeper into debt by doing this. Get advice from a specialist debt adviser
  • claim against mortgage payment protection insurance cover if you have got into debt for one of the reasons covered by the policy. Get advice from a specialist adviser.

Making extra mortgage payments

If you have some money to spare each month, you may be able to pay back what you owe by making extra payments on top of your usual monthly mortgage payments but you should negotiate with the lender in case this is not acceptable to it.

Think seriously about whether it's possible to increase the money you've got coming in or make cutbacks on your spending.

For example can you:

  • claim benefits or tax credits
  • work overtime or take a second job even for a few months
  • take in a lodger or rent out a room in your home and remember you can have tax concession on this income www.spareroom.co.uk
  • reduce the cost of household bills like water, gas, electricity or insurance
  • apply to a charity for an extra grant, for example, because you meet the eligibility criteria such as, your occupation, you are a veteran, illness, disability or your religion. A grant is unlikely to be available for mortgage arrears but help with other financial commitments will produce some spare money to pay the mortgage arrears www.grantsforindividuals.org.uk. You can get help to apply from a CAB adviser.

There are other ways to boost your income and some ideas on how to spend less on your outgoings. For more information, see Increasing your income and How to spend less.

Giving up your endowment policy

If you have an endowment mortgage, you could think about giving up your endowment policy or selling it off to an investor. This will provide you with a lump sum of money which you can use to help pay off the debt. However, you should think very carefully before doing this and get independent financial advice. You will need to find another way to pay off your mortgage loan and you will also need to find alternative life insurance cover. You will also need to find out whether there would be any penalties or other costs involved in bringing your endowment policy to an end. Get independent financial advice first.

If you’re sure that you want to sell your endowment policy, the Association of Policy Market Makers (APMM) can give you advice and help you sell your policy. You can contact the Association on 0845 011 9406, or look on their website at www.apmm.org.

Borrowing money

You might be thinking of taking out a loan, or borrowing money from someone you know to help you pay off the mortgage debt. Don’t borrow money from someone you know unless you know them well and can trust them. Be careful not to borrow from loan sharks.

For more information about loan sharks, see Credit.

If you take out a loan, check whether you can afford the repayments by going back to your budget. You should get advice from an expert debt adviser before taking out another loan. You need to work out what to do about this debt along with any other debts.

You can get expert debt advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

Using your mortgage payment protection insurance

If you’ve lost your job or had a temporary loss of income, check whether you have mortgage payment protection insurance (MPPI). You may have taken a policy out at the same time as you got your mortgage or afterwards. The MPPI policy may cover your mortgage payments if you can't work because of unemployment or sickness.

There are lots of circumstances in which, even if you have a payment protection policy, it won't pay out. You will need to check the terms and conditions of your policy carefully to see if you are covered. You may need to get advice about this. You can get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

For more information about payment protection insurance, see Payment protection insurance in Debt fact sheets.

You can also go to the Money Advice Service website at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

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Further help

Where to find independent financial advice.

The following organisations can help you find an independent financial adviser:

Independent Financial Promotions (IFAP)

Website: www.unbiased.co.uk

Institute of Financial Planning (IFP)

Email: enquiries@financialplanning.org.uk
Website: www.financialplanning.org.uk

Personal Finance Society (PFS)

Email: customer.serv@thepfs.org
Website: www.findanadviser.org

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