Many people are finding it difficult to keep up with mortgage repayments or are in mortgage arrears. If you think you are likely to fall behind in your mortgage payments, the most important step you can take is to contact your lender as soon as possible.
Check that you are claiming the correct amount of mortgage interest relief - this applies to mortgages taken out before 31 December 2012. If you are getting Mortgage Interest Supplement (now closed for new applicants) you should also check that you are getting the correct amount.
Under the Rent-a-room scheme, you may be able to earn some extra income to help with your mortgage repayments. You may be able to claim on a mortgage repayment policy or some other form of insurance that offers financial support if you experience a fall in income.
If you find yourself having difficulty with mortgage repayments, there are several sources of advice and help available.
MABS, the Money Advice and Budgeting Service, can advise you on dealing with mortgage arrears as well as other forms of problem debt. The MABS helpline 0761 07 2000 is open from 9am to 8pm, Monday to Friday. The Mortgage Arrears Information Helpline is now operated by MABS and is available either at 0761 07 4050 or through the MABS helpline.
You can also contact your local Citizens Information Centre for face-to face information and advice, or phone the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm.
The most important thing to do if you think you are likely to fall into mortgage arrears is to contact your mortgage lender and let them know the situation. Our overview of mortgage debt gives some information on your options.
Lenders must abide by specified codes of conduct in dealing with people who have problems paying their mortgage. These codes of conduct provide protection for borrowers. Read more in our document on consumer protection codes and mortgages.
Under the Central Bank's Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA), lenders must operate a Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP) with customers who are in mortgage arrears or who are likely to fall into mortgage arrears (pre-arrears). Read more about the steps involved in the MARP.
After assessing your situation under the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process, your lender may offer you an alternative repayment arrangement - often called a mortgage restructure. Read more about the types of arrangements available and some points to consider when assessing the offer.
The interlinked problems of mortgage arrears and personal debt have given rise to a series of initiatives. Find out more about these responses, which include new personal insolvency options and easier access to bankruptcy.
The Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA) is one of the new initiatives introduced to deal with problems of mortgage arrears and personal debt. It may be the right choice for you if you are unable to pay your mortgage repayments (or other debts) in full when they are due and you have cooperated with the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process for 6 months, but you have not been able to agree an alternative repayment arrangement under which you would be solvent again.
Under the national mortgage-to-rent scheme, people who are having trouble paying their mortgages can switch from owning their home to renting their home as social tenants. If you take up the mortgage-to-rent option, you will no longer own your home or have any financial interest in it.
If you sell your home and the sale does not cover the outstanding mortgage on the home, you should note that you will still owe the difference to the lending institution. Find out more about some of the implications if you sell or voluntarily surrender your home.