When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Practical steps to deal with debt

There are practical things that you can if you're having difficulties paying your mortgage.  The most important of these is to get advice so you fully understand your options. 

Get independent advice

Working out your options can be complicated. You may want to get independent advice before you decide what to do. An adviser may be able to help you to negotiate with your lender or represent you in court. Many advice agencies, such as Citizens Advice Bureau or Housing Rights, have specialist housing debt advisers who can give you impartial advice and help you:

  • work out available options;
  • create a realistic budget;
  • negotiate with your lender;
  • understand the court papers and write to the Master (judge) on your behalf;
  • represent you in court;
  • find alternative accommodation if your home is repossessed.

Pay as much as you can

Paying your mortgage must be your top priority. Even if you’re under pressure to pay other debts, you should try to cover as much of the mortgage as you can, before paying anything else.

Mortgage arrears are considered to be a priority debt. If you pay a non-priority debt, such as a catalogue purchase or a store card, instead of your mortgage, your lender is less likely to look at things sympathetically.  It's important that you understand which debts are priorities and which are not

You should try to keep up with current mortgage payments even if you have accumulated some arrears. If you allow the debt to get out of control, you could end up losing your home. Keep paying as much as you can realistically afford. This will help to stop your mortgage arrears from rising too quickly and will also show your lender that you are trying to tackle the problem.

In order to see what you can afford, you may need to work out your finances and see exactly how much you are earning and how much you are spending. If you need help with creating your income and expenditure sheets, or your financial statement, you can use the online budget calculator from the Money Advice Service.