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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Debt advice

Lots of people get back on their feet after falling into arrears and manage to keep their home. Falling behind on your mortgage doesn't mean you'll have to hand back your keys or that you'll have to pay everything you owe in a lump sum. Your lender should offer you a range of options to help you get back on track.

Use the Loan Calculator from the Money Advice Service to work out how long it will take you to pay off your loan, based on your current monthly payments. If the loan is secured on your home, you could end up losing the property if you fall behind on your repayments. If you're having money problems, it's best to get some free, independent advice from a charity before you take on any further debt.

If you fall behind on your rent, the Housing Executive or housing association can take steps to end your tenancy and evict you. Your landlord will need to get a court order before you'll have to leave the property and this will always be a last resort. Your landlord should try to sort the situation out with you before it starts legal action.

If you are on a low income, you may be entitled to Housing Benefit to help you pay your rent. Most people who rent privately have their entitlement to housing benefit worked out under a system called Local Housing Allowance.

You're in negative equity if you owe more on your mortgage or secured loan than your home is currently worth. Selling your home won't clear your debts.

When you go to a mortgage broker, they'll work out how much you can afford to borrow based on your household earnings. But, it's important to take your overall budget into consideration too.

Taking action to repossess a property involves a number of stages, which can take a few weeks or months. You may be able to stop the process at any stage, so get advice immediately and keep negotiating with your lender.

Use the Savings Calculator from the Money Advice Service to help you plan your service. The calculator can help you figure out how long it will take you to reach your savings goal or how much you'll save over time if you set aside a fixed amount of money every month.

Almost everyone will experience difficulties paying their bills at some point. If you are worried about falling into arrears or missing a payment of rent, you should talk to your landlord about the problem. Free debt advice is available from a variety of local advice agencies.

Make a list of all your debts. Check the bills or reminders that have been coming through the post and go through your bank statements to see what direct debits are being taken out of your account. Sort these into priority debts and non-priority. If you don’t pay priority debts you could lose your home or lose essential services.

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