Page last updated at 01:17 GMT, Wednesday, 8 April 2009 02:17 UK

Steps to avoid losing your home

Housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland suggests six steps to helping you to keep your home, whether you are facing repossession or eviction.

WORK OUT A BUDGET

Whether you are worried about paying your mortgage or paying your rent, it is vital to work out a budget.

  • Can you cut back on spending or get a better deal on your mortgage, insurance or utilities?
  • Can you increase your income? For example, you could check if you are getting all the benefits and tax credits you are entitled to, or perhaps you can increase your hours at work?
  • Advisors from a range of agencies, Citizens Advice Bureau or the money advice centre can help you work out a budget and claim any benefits you may be entitled to.

DON'T IGNORE THE PROBLEM
  • If you receive a worrying letter from your mortgage lender or landlord, don't throw it out or shove it to the back of a drawer. Get advice instead.
  • Call Shelter's helpline on 0808 800 4444 or go to www.shelter.org.uk/getadvice or alternatively visit your local Citizens Advice Bureau or money advice centre.

TALK TO YOUR LENDER OR LANDLORD
  • If something goes wrong and you can't meet your monthly mortgage payments in full, you should tell your lender immediately. It is really important to contact your lender!
  • Similarly, if you can't make your rent payments, let your landlord know. Don't wait for them to come to you. You may be able to come to an arrangement to pay off your arrears.

PAY WHAT YOU CAN

Even if you can't afford your entire monthly mortgage payments show that you are willing to pay what you can. If your lender knows you are trying to pay off your loan, they should allow you more time to sort out your money problems.

  • If you are renting your home and can't afford your full rent payments, show your landlord your budget and that you are willing to pay as much as you can.
  • In some cases, you may be able to arrange to pay off your arrears through deductions to your benefits, or apply for a debt repayment programme. If you don't pay your rent, you may lose your home. Therefore it's really important to prioritise your rent over all other debts, even energy bills and council tax.

FIND OUT WHAT YOUR OPTIONS ARE

Repossession should be a last resort for your lender, and they ought to consider ways to prevent it happening.

  • For example, you could decide to see your home yourself, or apply to the debt arrangement programme or the Scottish Government's mortgage to rent or mortgage to shared equity schemes.
  • An adviser at a CAB, money advice centre or at Shelter will be able to help you look at all the options. An adviser can also help you work out your options if you've fallen into rent arrears, to help you avoid eviction.

GET ADVICE
  • If you are having problems with your mortgage or rent payments, ensure you get advice before making any choices.
  • Talk to an adviser at a Citizens Advice Bureau or money advice centre, or call Shelter. You can use our Advice Services Directory to find help near you. An adviser can help you work out a budget, claim benefits and negotiate with your lender or landlord.
  • Homeowners should ensure before agreeing any changes to your mortgage with your lender, that you ask them to tell you about the longer-term implications of what's proposed.
  • If you rent your home and your landlord is threatening to take you to court to evict you, an adviser may be able to prevent things going that far, or help you find a solicitor to represent you in court.


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SEE ALSO
First-time buyer scheme expanded
30 Mar 09 |  Scotland
Mortgage support schemes launched
16 Mar 09 |  Scotland
Council tenant evictions concern
17 Dec 08 |  Scotland

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