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Dealing with mortgage arrears

If you miss a mortgage payment, you’ll be in a type of debt called mortgage arrears. You can get money and debt advice to help reduce the arrears and avoid repossession.

Always prioritise paying your mortgage

Always pay your mortgage before non-priority debts. Non-priority debts are things like credit cards, store cards and overdrafts.

If you cannot pay the full amount, pay as much as you can. This shows your lender you’re willing to put things right. It could delay or stop them trying to repossess your home.

If you have a joint mortgage, you're equally liable for mortgage repayments. This means if one of you cannot pay your share, the other person must pay the full amount. You both need to agree to any changes to the terms of the mortgage.

Get advice on ways to deal with mortgage arrears

There are options that can make your mortgage payments more affordable and help you keep your home.

Get money and debt advice to work out which options are right for you. An adviser can help with:

  • making sure you're getting all the benefits you're eligible for – use the Turn2Us Benefits Calculator to see which benefits you could get

  • checking the terms of mortgage payment protection insurance, if you have it

  • changing the terms of your mortgage agreement, or changing your mortgage lender

  • checking if you could take in a lodger

  • applying to the Home Owners’ Support Fund, to sell a share of your home to pay towards mortgage arrears

  • negotiating affordable repayments with your mortgage lender

  • selling your home as a last resort

Contact your lender about the arrears

Keep in touch with your lender to show you're trying to deal with the arrears. Tell them:

  • why you've missed payments

  • what you're doing to deal with the arrears

  • when you can start repaying the arrears

Use our letter template to contact your lender about arrears.

Ask your lender for a repayment plan

It’s important to get debt advice before asking for a repayment plan. An adviser can help you work out what you can afford. 

In your repayment proposal, include:

  • why you're in arrears

  • what you've done to improve your finances, such as budgeting

  • details of any money and debt advice you're getting

  • how much of the arrears you can pay back each month

  • how long you think it'll take to repay the arrears

Ask your lender for extra time to pay if you need it.

Get urgent advice if your home is being repossessed

If you get a repossession notice, get advice on your options immediately. Contact a Shelter Scotland adviser.

Keep paying what you can if your lender does not agree to your repayment plan.

Put your offers of repayments in writing and keep copies of all written communication with your lender.

If your lender takes you to court, this proof could help stop them from repossessing your home.

Check our advice on mortgage repossession.

Last updated: 28 April 2024

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England