Affording your rent or mortgage
The housing options service
The housing options service offers free and confidential advice on a wide range of housing matters including housing options and help to find a home. You may be able to find the information you need in the housing pages of the website. However if you need to contact us and cannot come into the office at Time Square you can email or phone us for information.
We are able to offer advice on:
- Tenancy rights
- Housing associations
- Housing grants and adaptations
- Housing development
- Poor housing conditions
- Rent and mortgage problems
- Homelessness advice
- Private rented sector
Difficulty paying your rent
If you have difficulty paying your rent you need to take action straight away. If you get advice and help straight away you stand a better chance of coming to an arrangement with your landlord to help you stay living in your home.
Tell your landlord
It is important to tell your landlord straight away if you are having difficulty paying your rent. If you talk to them early enough they are usually willing to agree a sensible payment plan so you can pay off any rent arrears and avoid losing your home. The longer you leave it the more difficult it is to make an agreement.
Contact the Citizen’s Advice Bureau as soon as you can - they will help you make sure you are getting all the welfare benefits you are entitled to (including housing and council tax) and help you sort out a budget to make sure your priority expenses (like rent) are paid first. They will also help you negotiate with your landlord.
- Don't take out a loan to pay of debts - this will only make matters worse
- Don't pay for advice that you can get free
- Don't bury your head in the sand - your problems will only get worse
If you are evicted you will have to find alternative accommodation for yourself and anyone else who is living with you. If you are evicted for non-payment of rent you will be considered to have made yourself intentionally homeless, in which case the council has no obligation to provide you with housing (except for a short period to give you a chance to find another home).
Mortgage arrears or payment difficulties
If you have difficulty paying your mortgage, problems are easier to resolve if they are tackled at an early stage. You may be able to avoid losing your home by getting advice and coming to an arrangement with your mortgage lender or the courts.
Get help from one of the free debt advice services
Talk to your lender
If you get into financial difficulties and find you can't pay your mortgage talk to your lender. They have a set procedure for dealing with situations like yours. For example, depending on your circumstances, your lender may agree to change your payments to something you can manage.
You may qualify for an income support payment to help you pay the interest part of your mortgage, but it will only cover interest payments for mortgages up to £100,000. If your mortgage is higher than this you will have to find the money to pay the rest of the interest yourself. However, you won’t be eligible for this benefit if:
- You have a joint mortgage and only one of you loses your income or
- You have household savings of more than £8,000
- Take out a loan to pay off your debts - you will just make things worse
- Hand back the keys to your property - you will still be liable for the mortgage until the property is sold
- Sell your home to a company who offer to rent it back to you - these schemes are not regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA)
- Go to a fee charging debt management company - there are plenty of FREE advice services which offer a better service at no cost.
Mortgage rescue scheme
If you are unable to meet your mortgage repayments and/or are in arrears with your mortgage, you may be eligible for help via the government’s mortgage rescue scheme. This is a national scheme aimed at helping home owners facing severe financial difficulties to sell all or part of their property to a housing association and remain in their home as either a part owner or a tenant.
To find out more about the mortgage rescue scheme, and whether it may be able to help you, contact the Housing Options Service