Mortgage Help – What to Do if You Can’t Pay Your Mortgage

what to do if you cant pay your mortgage
Image taken by Yogendra Singh

What to Do if You Can’t Pay Your Mortgage: Practical Advice for Struggling Homeowners


Owning a home is a dream come true for many of us. But what happens when the reality of mortgage payments sets in, and you find yourself struggling to keep up with your mortgage repayments? It’s a situation that many homeowners find themselves in, and it can be a stressful and overwhelming experience.

If you’re in this situation, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. It is also important to know your options if you can’t afford your mortgage payments.

There are steps you can take to address the issue and get back on track. In this article, we’ll explore what to do if you can’t pay your mortgage, including practical advice and tips to help you manage your finances and stay on top of your repayments.


Understanding Mortgage Arrears: What Happens When You Can’t Pay Your Mortgage?

Mortgage arrears dealing with missed payments
Image taken by James Feaver

Mortgage arrears or problems paying your mortgage can be a challenging and distressing experience. It’s important to understand what happens when you fall behind on your payments and the consequences that may follow.

The first thing to know is that mortgage arrears are a priority debt. This means that they take precedence over other debts, such as credit card bills or personal loans. If you consistently fail to repay your mortgage, your home could be repossessed.

When you miss a mortgage payment, your lender will usually write to you and inform you of the situation. Rather than waiting for the letter, it’s best to be proactive and contact your provider to discuss the issue.

Mortgage arrears help
Image taken by Nik Shuliahin

What to Do if You’re Struggling to Pay Your Mortgage: Tips and Advice

If you’re struggling to pay your mortgage, there are steps you can take to manage your finances and address the issue. Here are some practical tips and advice to help you get back on track:

  1. Contact Your Lender

The first thing to do if you’re struggling to pay your mortgage is to contact your lender. It’s key to talk to them as soon as possible and make them aware of your situation. Regardless of whether you’re with a major bank or smaller building society, they should be willing and able to offer support.

Before calling your mortgage lender, think about how much you can afford to pay each month and whether there is likely to be any change to your income in the short term, as these are both questions, they’re likely to ask. You’ll also need to be prepared to discuss your current finances and financial commitments.


In the first instance, your lender might be able to offer one of the following options:

  • A temporary mortgage payment holiday: your repayments are paused for a set period of time – but interest will continue being added to your loan, so you’ll likely pay more interest in the long run.
  • A temporary switch to interest-only payments: you just pay the interest on your mortgage, without repaying the loan itself, for a set period of time – so you might pay off your entire mortgage later than you planned to.
  • Extending the mortgage term to reduce monthly payments: you can stretch out your mortgage term, from 30 years to 35 years, for example. You’ll be paying back the same amount of debt, but over a longer period as your monthly bill will be reduced.

Lenders have staff who are trained in helping customers with these types of concerns, so don’t feel embarrassed to pick up the phone and ask for help. The sooner you contact your lender, the sooner they can offer you support.


  1. Draw up a Budget

All lenders are required to have measures in place to support people struggling to afford their mortgage payments. But in order for them to work out the most suitable arrangement, you will need to tell them all about your circumstances.

So, make a budget, covering all of your main earnings and outgoings. Don’t forget things like food and transport and go through all the relevant paperwork, such as bank and credit card statements.

You might be able to identify outgoings that are “nice to have” – such as magazine or TV subscriptions – but not essential. Then you will be able to save some cash by cancelling those regular payments.


  1. Pay What You Can

When faced with a desolate set of circumstances, it’s human nature to give up. But don’t stop paying. In fact, pay as much as you can afford each month. This shows intent and a willingness to meet your contractual obligations.

The mortgage lender will notice any reduced payments and contact you – but don’t wait for them to do this.


  1. Consider the Nuclear Options

If none of these options work and the debts are piling up, you could ask your lender whether the option of “capitalising the arrears” is on the table. This is when a lender would agree to adding arrears to the amount owed on a mortgage.

Inevitably, payments will increase when this happens, so this may only be possible with an extended term. Alternatively, if you can’t pay your mortgage, you could always consider downsizing – selling your property and moving to a cheaper one.

This takes time though, so speak to the lender about the transitional period while this takes place.


  1. Get Creative

You can get creative too. Why not consider a lodger? After the recent flight to the grassy and spacious rural areas, people are now being forced back into the cities a few days a week for work.

This means you might only have to rent out a room in your property a few days a week.

And if that garage isn’t doing anything, you might be surprised to find how much rental income it could bring in.


  1. Seek Free Debt Advice

If you’re struggling with debt, it can be helpful to take independent advice on your options. Free advice is available from a number of sources, including the following:

    Citizens Advice Bureau

    National Debtline

    StepChange Debt Charity


Government Support for People with Mortgage Arrears

Benefits claimants in England may be able to get help through the government’s Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) loan, which covers some of the interest on their mortgage.

To qualify, you will need to be in receipt of one of the following: Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or Pension Credit.

The SMI loan is repayable when you sell the property. You can find out more at You can also seek advice on your options from your local council.

Homeowners in Scotland struggling with their payments may be eligible for the Homeowners’ Support Fund. Measures can include the government buying a stake of your property to reduce your mortgage payments.

Some local authorities in Wales provide mortgage rescue schemes that can help struggling homeowners avoid repossession.

Housing Rights Northern Ireland provides a support line for people concerned about their mortgage payments.



Struggling to pay your mortgage can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. But it’s important to know that you’re not alone, and there are steps you can take to address the issue and get back on track.

By contacting your lender, drawing up a budget, paying what you can, and seeking free debt advice, you can begin to manage your finances and work towards a solution.

Remember, mortgage arrears are a priority debt, so it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible. By taking action early, you can avoid the stress and anxiety that comes with falling behind on your mortgage payments.