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Payment problems leading to mortgage arrears

This section examines the options that may be available when facing difficulty in making mortgage payments.


The decision as to whether the borrower will be able to remain in the home will be determined by the extent to which the mortgage can be made more affordable and the arrears properly controlled. This page looks at the possible options open to the borrower. 

Advising about payment problems

This page outlines an action plan that advisers may wish to consider when working with clients with mortgage arrears. 

Negotiating with the lender

This page examines the possibility of negotiating with the lender to control and pay back mortgage arrears. 

Debt arrangement schemes

The debt arrangement scheme allows debtors struggling to pay back money borrowed time to pay off their debts at an affordable rate. 

Increasing income

A borrower who has difficulties paying a mortgage should consider ways of maximising income. 

Cutting mortgage costs

When dealing with mortgage arrears cases it is important to consider whether it is possible to reduce the cost of the mortgage or any of the other costs associated with it. 

Reducing arrears

It may be possible for a borrower to take action to reduce her/his mortgage arrears in order to prevent any further action being taken by the lender. 

Mortgage arrears charges

If a borrower has mortgage arrears, it is likely that their lender can charge her/him mortgage arrears fees. If these default fees are excessively high, the borrower may be able to complain and claim some money back. 

Mortgage rescue schemes

Mortgage rescue schemes allow a borrower to remain living in the home, whether as a tenant or as part-tenant/part-owner, if s/he is unable to meet the financial commitments in the mortgage. Schemes may be available from local authorities and registered social landlords, mortgage lenders and private firms. 

Voluntary sale

A voluntary sale is where the borrower agrees to sell the property in order to repay the mortgage instead of allowing the lender to sell it after repossession. 

Handing back the keys

Voluntary surrender, whereby the borrower gives the lender possession and lets them sell the property, should be considered only as a last resort. This page looks at situations in which voluntary surrender may be a viable option, and also examines why lenders may be resistant to this solution. 

This content applies to Scotland

Last updated: 28 July 2020