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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Don't ignore the problem

Do not wait for your lender to contact you if you are having money problems. Let your lender know if you have missed a mortgage payment of if you think this might happen soon.

Most lenders will work with you to find a solution before the situation gets any worse.

Talk to your lender

Talk to your lender as soon as you can. They may be more understanding and helpful than you expect. Ask if there is a special team to deal with people with debt problems and vulnerabilities.

Your lender has to take specific steps before taking you to court. Make notes after your conversations with your lender. Keep any letters, emails or texts you send and receive.

Even if your situation seems bad to you, our advisers can often find a way to help you to stay in your home. If you do not have a plan to pay the debt, tell your lender that you need specialist advice about your options. Then contact our helpline for advice on your options and managing your debts.

Problems caused by coronavirus

Make sure you tell your lender if your income has reduced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. They have to look at ways to help you manage. This can include offering you a payment holiday if you are struggling to pay your full mortgage. You have to ask for this payment holiday by 31 October 2020.

Going to court about your mortgage

There are certain steps that your lender has to take before they can take you to court. Before this happens, you will receive letters from

  • your lender
  • the lender's solicitor and
  • the court.

Letters from your lender

Always read any letters or emails from your lender. Call our helpline if you don't understand what these letters mean. The letters won't stop coming if you ignore them.

Your lender will usually send you a letter if you miss a payment. This letter will ask you to:

  • explain how you are going to catch up on your missed payments
  • contact your lender to discuss your situation.

Catching up on missed payments

A household budget lets you understand what you are earning and spending each month. You will see how much extra you can afford to pay each month to pay back your debt. When you talk to your lender, you can agree a plan to repay your debt. Lots of charities can help you make a budget.

Your lender will contact you again if

  • you miss more payments or
  • the lender isn't happy with your plan to repay your debt.

This letter will usually give you 7 days to contact the lender or pay your debt. If you do not do either of these things, the lender will tell its solicitors to start legal action against you.

It is best to sort the problem out before solicitors are involved if you can. Ignoring the problem won't make it go away. Contact our friendly and free helpline if you want advice before you speak to your lender.

Letters from your lender's solicitor

The solicitor can send you a letter giving you seven days to either pay off all your arrears or make a plan to do so. This letter is sometimes referred to as ‘Notice to Quit’. You don't actually have to leave the property at this stage if you can't pay. This is the start of the legal process to repossess your home, and you can still fight your case.

The lender's solicitor can start court action if it isn't happy with how you respond to the ‘Notice to Quit’. They don't have to give you any extra warning.

The language in legal letters can be scary and cause a lot of stress. Get help from Housing Rights if you do not understand the letters. We can also help you to negotiate with the lender and their solicitors.

Letters from the court

The court will write to you if your lender has started the legal process to recover your home. It’s not always easy to tell what is a letter from the court and what is a letter from the lender's solicitor. If you don't know understand the letter call Housing Rights.

Watch our video to learn what happens at a court hearing and read about your options if you have to go to court. You can stop a repossession at any stage of the process as long as you can make plans to pay your debts.