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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Get advice if you're worried about your mortgage

Image of Coronavirus Closeup, by Daniel Foster

With almost 2,500 redundancies proposed for Northern Ireland in June and economists predicting that Northern Ireland will continue to feel the effects of Coronavirus well into 2025, it stands to reason that many homeowners are likely to face difficulties with mortgage payments in the coming weeks and months. Our experience helping people facing repossession after the 2008 financial crisis has taught us that, while it's never too late to get advice, you'll have more options if you get advice sooner, rather than later. 

What help is currently available?

The Financial Conduct Authority has imposed a moratorium on members pursuing legal action against borrowers who have defaulted on their mortgages at this time and has extended forbearance measures until October of this year. Forbearance means holding back from taking legal action to recover the money that you owe. The types of forbearance measures that your lender should investigate include things like reducing your interest rates and agreeing to accept reduced payments for a period of time, as well as the much-publicised mortgage payment holiday, or deferral. These measures will give much-needed breathing space to people who are struggling to pay their mortgages, but we'd encourage anyone who has requested a deferral of their mortgage payments and is concerned about how they will manage once these payments start up again to keep in contact with their lender and to get advice. 

Payment breaks and existing mortgage difficulties

You have until 31 October 2020 to apply for a mortgage payment break. Any payments you miss will be added to your mortgage balance and you will continue to be charged interest while your payments are suspended. This means that when your mortgage payments resumes, they may be more expensive than they were before the break. 

If you've already been in court about your mortgage and the court made an order requiring you to pay a certain amount towards your arrears every month, it is important that you continue to pay what you can and that you let your landlord know if your ability to pay has been affected by this crisis. Your lender can eventually take you to court in an attempt to repossess your home if your mortgage falls into arrears, although this can be avoided if you get advice about your mortgage difficulties earlier, rather than later.

Courts are not currently dealing with cases relating to mortgage arrears, and it's unlikely that this kind of court action will begin before November. However, it's still really important for you to pay whatever you can towards your mortgage and to let your lender know about any financial difficulties you are having. 

Confidential, empathetic, professional advice

Talk to our advisers if you are worried about managing your mortgage payments. Talking to someone about your worries and finding out more about the options that are available to you could really help to ease any stress you are currently experiencing. 

Often people let problems with debt fester because they are embarrassed or worried about other people finding out that they are having difficulties. All our advice services are confidential and we will only disclose information without your specific permission if we are legally compelled to do so. You can speak to us confidentially and privately by calling 028 9024 5640 and choosing option 4. If you don't want to speak to someone on the phone, you can use our live chat service or send us a message and we'll reply by email

Our phone lines and online chat service are open between 09:30 and 16:30 Monday to Friday.

Tagged In

Coronavirus, Repossession, Affordability