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Dealing with mortgage arrears

Struggling with mortgage debt can be very stressful and it can be hard to know where to start. Even the language used can be confusing. If you have missed a mortgage repayment, you are said to be ‘in arrears’.  If you are at risk of falling behind on repayments you are said to be in ‘pre-arrears’. We can help you through both situations. 

This page has general information to help you to take control of the situation. Taking action to address your mortgage arrears could be critical to keeping your home. 

Important: Contact MABS immediately if you: 

  • Have been told by your lender that they’re applying to court 
  • Have received court papers 

Assess your situation 

You will need to work out how much you can afford to pay towards your mortgage arrears.  The easiest way to do this is to draw up a money management plan.  

You can also follow our 5 steps to tackling debt

When you have gathered your income and expenditure figures you can look for ways to increase or make the most of your money. If you can show that you will try your best to maximise your income and pay your mortgage, your lender may make an alternative repayment arrangement with you – see Talk to your lender about ways to pay your arrears.  

Your mortgage lender will ask you to complete what is known as a Standard Financial Statement (SFS). The SFS is a form where you can record details of your income, expenditure and debts.  The form is issued by the Central Bank so that the same one is used by all mortgage lenders. Your lender will give you this form and help you complete it if you want, or you can get help from MABS.  You can use the figures from your Budget Plan or Full Financial Picture to make a start.   

Information to start to gather 

About your mortgage 

  • The year it was taken out from the bank  
  • The names of borrowers on the deed  
  • The original amount  
  • The term – how long it is expected to last 
  • The balance outstanding (this could be higher than the original loan, if you have been in arrears)  
  • The same details for any top-up loans  
  • The amount of any arrears you are in – on your statement, or on a letter your lender sent you  

Value of your home 

You will also need to find out the approximate value of your home. If you don’t have a current valuation, you can: 

Documentation you will need 

  • A recent Mortgage Account Statement  
  • A copy of your Standard Financial Statement (SFS), if you have completed one 
  • Any letters or correspondence with your mortgage lender  
  • A copy of the original letter of loan offer from the mortgage lender (including top-up loans, if any) – this is the contract you would have signed with your lender when you took out the mortgage  
  • A copy of your mortgage deed – this is the legal document allowing the mortgage to be registered on your property  

Don’t worry if you don’t have these documents to hand. You can contact your lender and ask them to send you copies.   

Find out more:  

Take action; don’t ignore your lender 

If you’re struggling to pay your mortgage on time, it’s best to act as soon as possible. Missing a repayment can impact on your credit history.  

If you fall behind on payments but do nothing, your mortgage lender will take action to recover the overdue payments.  

Get in touch with your lender 

Contact your lender and explain your financial situation. Let them know you can’t keep on top of your repayments and ask how to make repayments more manageable.  

Read our advice on how to talk to your lender about ways to pay.

Remember: You have strong protections if you fall behind (in arrears) on your mortgage repayments or if you tell your lender that you are at risk of falling behind (in pre-arrears). 

Your lender must follow the rules of the Central Bank’s Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA). Under the rules lenders must: 

  • Treat your case sympathetically and positively, with the aim of getting you back on track with your mortgage 

If your lender has contacted you 

Your lender will write to you 31 days after a missed payment telling you that your arrears are now being dealt with under the MARP.     

If your lender has sent you this letter, don’t ignore it as you could be classified as ‘not co-operating’ with them. If you haven’t tried talking to your lender about a plan to address your arrears, you can still do this now. 

Your lender must follow strict rules about how often they contact you. Under the CCMA, your lender must work with you to find a solution to the problem you are having in repaying your mortgage. 

Find out more:  

Get more help from MABS 

This can be an extremely stressful time, but help is available. MABS can help you to put shape on the problem and to put together a payment plan. Contact MABS or read more about how MABS can help 

Find out more: 

 

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