When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Practical steps to deal with debt

There are practical steps you can take if you're having trouble paying your mortgage. The most important thing is to get advice so you fully understand your options. 

Get independent advice

Working out your options can be complicated. Getting independent advice can help 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 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 speak on your behalf
  • represent you in court
  • find alternative accommodation if your home is repossessed

Pay as much of your mortgage 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 a priority debt. If you pay a non-priority debt (such as a credit or 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 built up 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 arrears from rising too quickly. It will also show your lender that you are trying to tackle the problem.

Work out what you can afford

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 MoneyHelper.