Page last updated at 09:26 GMT, Monday, 11 January 2010

Many homes 'using credit cards to pay mortgage'


Kay Boycott: "Anyone using credit cards to pay for housing should see this as a massive warning bell"

Up to one million households have borrowed money on a credit card to pay their mortgage or rent over the past year, a charity's study suggests.

Housing charity Shelter said this figure represented 6% of UK homes.

Shelter said people in lower social groups had been most likely to need to use their credit cards, but that the middle classes had also been affected.

The charity said the figure was a "shocking discovery". Its survey questioned 2,022 people.

Seek advice

Shelter said it urged people who were struggling to keep up with their housing costs to urgently seek expert advice.

"If people are already struggling to the extent that they fear losing their home, increasing credit card debt cannot be the answer," said Kay Boycott, Shelter's director of policy and campaigns.

Its survey suggested that for lower social groups, the number of people resorting to using their credit cards over the past 12 months rose to 8%, while the figure for middle class people totalled 4%.

Shelter said many people who had resorted to using their credit cards were now at risk of becoming homeless, as in some cases defaulting on their credit card repayments might lead to their homes being repossessed.

Last year, Citizens Advice reported that some lenders were increasingly going to court to obtain a charging order, which secures a previously unsecured debt on the borrower's property.

While cases of actual repossessions following this were rare, such a move would make it possible for a lender to ask a court to order the sale of a property to recover a debt.

Citizens Advice found that since 2000 there had been a 722% rise in the number of charging order applications by unsecured creditors.

The charity also found that 74% of the 132,000 applications in 2007 resulted in charging orders being made.

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