Dealing with your mortgage lender
If you're struggling to pay your mortgage, you must take action quickly to stop yourself from falling into debt.
If you get into debt and your lender thinks you’re not dealing with the problem, they will take action through the courts. This could lead to you losing your home.
There may be ways you can cut down your mortgage costs to stop you falling into debt.
If you've already fallen behind with your payments, there may be things you can do to stop from falling further behind and to clear the debt.
To find out more about how you can cut down your mortgage costs or clear what you owe on your payments, see more information on how to deal with your mortgage problems.
Once you've worked out how you want to deal with the problem, you will need to contact your lender as soon as possible and tell them what you'd like to do.
On this page, we tell you:
You'll need to come to an agreement with your mortgage lender. If you can't come to an agreement or you can't pay back what you owe, your lender will take you to court and you may lose your home.
If you're in this position, you should get help from an experienced debt adviser straight away. You should also get help if you’ve started getting letters from your mortgage lender threatening court action.
You can get debt advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by e-mail, click on nearest CAB.
You might also find it helpful to look at What happens when your mortgage lender takes you to court.
The telephone number and address of your mortgage lender should be on your most recent mortgage statement or any other letter you've received from them.
If your mortgage is with a high street bank or building society, you could also speak to the mortgage adviser in your local branch. Your mortgage lender may also have a website with information about how to contact them.
What you should say
Once you've worked out who to contact, you need to write to your mortgage lender.
You will need to work out how you're going to deal with the problem first and then put the details in writing. Don't expect your mortgage lender to suggest how you should deal with the problem as they might not be fully aware of your circumstances. You need to come up with a plan which suits you.
For example, you might be struggling to pay your mortgage at the moment because you've lost your job, or are off work sick. But you expect things to get easier shortly because:
If your mortgage lender knows your circumstances, they might be prepared to give you extra time to pay up.
In the letter to your mortgage lender you should clearly set out how you intend to pay back what you owe.
Your letter should also:
- give the background to the problem
- give the reasons why the mortgage payments debt has built up
- say that you previously had a good payment record, if this is true
- if appropriate, say how many years it will take to clear the debt, compared to the remaining term of the mortgage
- whether there is any equity in the property. If you have equity in your property, this means that it's worth more than what you owe on your mortgage.
If you’re offering to pay back extra each month, this should be based on how much you can afford to pay. To work out how much you can afford, you will need to look at your budget.
You should be sure that you're offering to pay back an amount you can realistically stick to and that it will clear the debt within the period of the mortgage.
Include an income and expenditure sheet with the letter to your lender which shows how you have worked this out.
For more information about budgeting, see How to work out your Budget. You can also use our online budgeting tool to help you work out your budget. This lets you print off a financial statement of your income and expenditure which you can show to your lender.
Try and persuade your mortgage lender that accepting an offer worked out in this way is in both of your interests, because you are more likely to keep to it.
You could also suggest to your lender that they accept these arrangements for a certain period of time, after which they can review the situation to see how well it has been working.
You may want to get the help of an experienced debt adviser to help you deal with your mortgage lender.
You can get help from your local Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.
Your mortgage lender doesn't want to help
If the person you're dealing with at the mortgage company is not being helpful, it's worth trying to deal with someone who has more responsibility, for example, a supervisor or manager.
You should start to make regular payments to your mortgage lender, however small. Even if you can’t reach an agreement with your lender about how to pay off the debt, it may help your case if you are taken to court later on.
If you argue your case in court, the judge may allow you to stay in your property as long as you keep to an agreement to pay. If you’re in this situation, get help from an expert debt adviser.
For more information about what happens when your mortgage lender takes you to court, see What happens when your mortgage lender takes you to court.
You can get expert debt advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those which can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.
There are rules about how your mortgage lender should treat you if you get into difficulties paying your mortgage. The rules say that your mortgage lender must treat you fairly and give you a reasonable chance to make arrangements to pay off the arrears, if you are able to.
For more information about the rules your lender has to follow, see What your lender must do before starting court action in What happens when your mortgage lender takes you to court.
More information about dealing with mortgage problems
For more information about how to deal with your mortgage problems, see the following pages:
How to sort out your mortgage problems
Increasing your income
How to spend less