Meeting your mortgage payments
Written by Jeremy Thomson, Shelter
The most common length of a mortgage in the UK is 25 years. And while many people will be able to meet those payments over the years without too much financial strain, others simply aren’t so lucky. Many people who come to Shelter Bristol for help have hit a bump somewhere along that 25-year-long road. Some have been made redundant or have fallen ill. Others have had their relationship break down. These are some of the reasons why people who were once able to pay the mortgage comfortably, find themselves struggling to get by.
My team at Shelter Bristol helps people in exactly that situation try to find a way to stay in their homes or, if that’s not possible, to arrange a smooth move into a new one.
If you find yourself in a position where you can’t afford to make the mortgage payments, don’t panic. Don’t ignore things as there is plenty you can do to sort it out. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you do come to Shelter Bristol, there are several things we can do to help. Firstly, we would keep in regular contact with your lender. It comforts lenders to know that you are trying to sort something out and are getting advice. Most lenders have even signed up to a code of conduct which states that they have to give you some time to sort things out before they take any action.
Next we would get you the financial support you need – it’s always surprising how many people I see aren’t topping up their income with welfare support they are entitled to. Another option which is increasingly popular is to rent out a spare room if you have one. The other side of maximising your income is reducing your expenses. If you’re in a position where you can’t afford to pay everything you used to be able to, then we will work with you to prioritise the more important expenses, such as food, gas, electricity and of course your mortgage, and to help you agree reduced payments on other expenses, such as unsecured loans, credits cards or catalogues.
The aim of all of this is to try to put you back in a position where you can afford to start paying the mortgage again. If you can do this, then in the majority of cases we can agree a plan with your lender to repay any arrears over an extended period of time, in payments you will be able to afford. And even in the cases where the mortgage remains unaffordable in the long-term, Shelter advisors will be able to give you specialist advice about your options for finding somewhere new to live and make your move to a new home as smooth as possible.
Of course we look at cases individually, and everyone’s circumstances are different. But anyone struggling with housing problems can come to Shelter Bristol for expert help and advice. Just go to shelter.org.uk/advice as a starting point, or pop into one of our drop-in sessions at Shelter Bristol, New Bond House, Bond Street, Bristol, BS2 9AG between 9.30 and 12.00 Mondays to Fridays.