Struggling with your mortgage or rent might be costing you more than you think

If you're struggling to meet your mortgage or rent payments each month - and your arrears are growing - you're probably well aware of the financial cost. But trying to keep up with your housing costs can also cause a lot of emotional strain.

If worries about your mortgage or rent are really getting on top of you, you're not alone. According to Shelter, 32% of people in Britain (around 15 million) are experiencing emotional stress due to their housing costs.

Over a quarter (26%) of the 4,000 people Shelter asked said that struggling to cover housing costs was causing arguments with their loved ones.

This revelation comes after recent research from Shelter that showed 7.8 million people in Britain are constantly struggling to stay on top of their housing payments. That's a 44% increase from the same time last year.

The chief executive of the Samaritans, Catherine Johnstone, said: "A decent place to live is a basic need for everyone.

"Worries about money and the threat of losing a home can cause stress and depression and become a real strain on relationships and families."

What to do if you're struggling with your mortgage/rent payments

Debt management company Gregory Pennington has these tips for people who are falling behind on their mortgage or rent payments:

  • Get in touch with your mortgage lender or landlord and explain why you're falling behind. You may be able to work out a more manageable payment plan until you're back on your feet. Just make sure you understand the consequences before you commit yourself to anything.
  • If you're falling behind on your housing costs due to unsecured debts (credit cards, personal loans, etc.), sorting these out could free up funds in your budget to put towards your mortgage/rent. Getting the right debt help could allow you to repay your debts at a pace you can afford - and your mortgage/rent payments will remain a priority.
  • Seek advice from an adviser as soon as you can - and ask them to suggest your best way forward.
  • Ensure you're claiming all the benefits - especially housing benefits - that you're entitled to. Use the Citizens Advice Bureau's Benefit Calculator to check your eligibility.
  • Check whether you have Mortgage Payment Protection Insurance (MPPI) if you've experienced a temporary loss of income. It may be included in your mortgage deal.
  • In less serious cases, budgeting more effectively could help you afford your payments. Use Gregory Pennington's budget planner to help you get started.
  • Look into mortgage rescue schemes. This is usually a last resort. Click here for more information about mortgage rescue schemes from the Government.
    • Helen Gradwell

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