Homeowners struggle with mortgage repayment for various reasons. Unemployment, serious medical illnesses and other financial emergencies that drain a household budget make it difficult for homeowners to make mortgage payments on time. Although mortgages are "priority debts", the lender can repossess the home for non-payment, a homeowner with serious financial difficulties won't be able to make the full mortgage payments despite the risk to their home.
As soon as a homeowner realises he won't able to make the full mortgage repayment plan, he should create a household budget. He must pay as much money on the mortgage as possible until he works out a solution with his lender and considers his finance options. If the homeowner stops paying on the mortgage completely, the lender may be reluctant to help. Lenders are more willing to work with homeowners who try to make some sort of payment. A budget calculator helps the homeowner make a budget that shows him how much money he actually has to put toward the mortgage each month. Budget calculator features vary by type but most include boxes for different types of monthly expenses, such as clothing, food and insurance. An online budget calculator may allow a homeowner to customise input fields to include extra costs not shown on a standard calculator.
Once the homeowner has an accurate budget, he may consider his finance options. For example, consolidating other debts, such as credit card debts, may free up more money for the mortgage. A borrower who is already in arrears with the mortgage lender may have less finance options available because of the damage to his personal credit.
The homeowner should contact the lender directly after he has freed up as much money as possible for his mortgage repayment and knows what he can afford to pay the lender. Lenders have special programs to help homeowners who can't make their payments. What the homeowner will qualify for depends on the lender's internal guidelines, his circumstances, payment history and how long his payment difficulties will last. Some common assistance programs for struggling mortgage borrowers include payment reduction, payment "holiday", the lender allows the homeowner to "skip" some scheduled mortgage repayment and the extension of the loan term to lower payments. The lender may add the arrears to the borrower's regular monthly payment, allowing him to back pay the arrears in small amounts each month if he can afford to do so.
Government programs may be able to help the homeowner if the lender isn't will to do so. Programs vary by area. For example, a homeowner in England may be able to get help from his local council's housing authority under the government's Mortgage Rescue scheme. Homeowners who make less than 60,000 each year and have a priority person in their home, such as a child or pregnant wife--may get free financial education and assistance with loan repayments if they qualify for the scheme. Assistance hotlines, such as Consumer Credit Counselling Service and Pay plan, provide free debt advice to UK residents over the telephone.