There are many reasons why you may suddenly find yourself struggling to pay your mortgage. From illness and injury to unforeseen financial issues, unemployment and world economics. Whatever the reason you’re unable to get yourself back on the right track with those all-important mortgage payments, ignoring them won’t make the problem go away – and can make it worse over time.
So, what should you be doing if you’re having problems making ends meet for your mortgage payments? Here are some of the steps that you can follow to get yourself back on solid ground financially, and ensure there are no long-term problems for you when it comes to the roof over your head.
Get in touch with your mortgage lender
This may seem like obvious advice, but telling the people you borrow money from that you can’t pay them back right now is daunting and anxiety-inducing for anyone. But writing that email, picking up the phone or launching that live chat is the first step to resolving your mortgage issues, and it’s a must to let your mortgage lender know what is going on.
In the UK, it’s a requirement that lenders, including mortgage lenders, speak to you about options for your debt. After all, it’s in the lender’s best interests to reach a positive conclusion, even if it isn’t your original agreement. With the support of a lender, you can then work together to set up an agreement or arrangement for payment that works for you, and won’t leave you falling further into that financial hole.
If you are currently in arrears by one or more payments, communication is the best thing you can do. From there, your lender must give you reasonable time to make up the shortfall and be upfront about any charges that may apply. Repossession is one of the top worries for homeowners behind on their payments. But remember that this is the last resort rather than the first step for lenders and they must give notice before this happens.
Check if you already have insurance in place for your mortgage
If you currently have a mortgage against your property, there is a possibility you may also have PPI or Payment Protection Insurance. While we’ve heard plenty of bad things about PPI on the TV and in the news, in the case of mortgages, built-in insurance can help you make those mortgage payments should you be in an accident, become ill or find yourself unemployed.
Dig out your paperwork for your mortgage, and the details of whether you have this particular insurance should be there in black and white. If you can’t find the information, you can always touch base with your lender – or a broker if you used one – to find out if you did take out PPI insurance as part of your mortgage or not.
Make a budget and cut costs wherever possible
Unnecessary or uncontrolled spending can leave you with less money in the bank than you need for your essential bills – like your mortgage, electric or gas bills or loan repayments. If you’ve had a sudden dip in income, this can lead to even more problems if your spending habits don’t change. Write up a complete budget, and start looking at things you can cut back on.
Whether it’s unused subscriptions, expensive beauty appointments, take-aways or any other ‘wants not needs’ costs, cutting back can be the key to having that money for your mortgage every single month. You can even cut back on essential expenses by switching your gas, electric and internet to a new, cheaper provider to by reducing your mobile phone bill. Be careful about what you cut back on – things like car insurance, life insurance and food are all essentials, and still need to be paid every single month.
Research if you can access additional help to make your payments
If you’ve been laid off from work or have a long-term illness, then you may be eligible for housing benefits that could help cover the cost of your mortgage—the GOV.UK website has a benefits calculator that you can use to figure out what you might be entitled to, or you can pick up the phone and speak to someone directly about the benefits you could receive.
Contact a counselling service or charity for those struggling with debt
If you’re struggling with money, it can be challenging to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In those cases, an outside perspective can help you get to a more positive mindset, allowing you to get to work paying off those essentials – like your mortgage. Citizens Advice, Shelter and StepChange all offer counselling and advice for those struggling with debt and money issues, and it’s well worth getting in touch with them if you need the extra support.
If you’re struggling to pay your mortgage, your mind often jumps to the worst-case scenario. But there’s plenty you can do before you have to resort to selling your house – and with a little willpower and insight, you might be better off than you think. Thousands of people struggle with their mortgages each day, so when it comes to seeking help and support, you definitely won’t be the odd one out.