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Page last updated at 08:45 GMT, Friday, 24 October 2008 09:45 UK
'I'm worried I'll lose my home'

By Catherine Burns
Newsbeat reporter, Cheltenham

Jo Davis
Jo says she's having to go to the doctor's for depression

All year Newsbeat has been helping listeners with money problems. So Jo Davis got in touch with us. She's fallen behind with her mortgage and is worried her house is going to be repossessed.

Jo has lived in her house for six years, and it's a proper family home.

As well as her 14-year-old twin daughters and three-year-old son, she has two dogs, a budgie and a rabbit.

There's a climbing frame in the garden and toys scattered around inside.

She has a part-time job as a mental health worker, but she's struggling.

She first got into trouble with the mortgage company last year.

They took her to court, but agreed she could keep her house as long as she started paying the mortgage payments of 561 again, plus an extra 50 a month.

Missing payments

She said: "I knew at the time it was unrealistic. But when you're in that situation you do agree to whatever they're saying you need to do."

At first she managed to find the cash, but only because she stopped paying the direct debits for her gas and electricity.

So the energy companies made her go on pre-payment meters. It soon got to the stage where something had to give.

Now she's missed two months of mortgage payments.
It's just a complete mess. We will survive, but we need a roof over our heads
Jo Davis

To make things more difficult, her fixed rate deal is due to finish in a few weeks, so her payments will go up by 300 a month.

She says there's no way she'll be able to cope with that and thinks she'll be repossessed after Christmas.

"It would be upsetting. In fact, it would be devastating. Because, my home... It's not bricks and mortar really.

"I know it's a bit of a clutter bucket, but it's who we are."

'Try to negotiate'

Debt counsellor Chris Tapp from the charity Credit Action says the next few weeks will be crucial.

He suggests the first thing Jo should do is try to negotiate with her mortgage company, and see if she can persuade them to agree to lower monthly payments.

But he admits that sometimes, talking to lenders can be like talking to a brick wall.
Jo Davis
Jo sits down with debt counsellor Chris Tapp for some advice

He also says that she should think about trying to sell up.

Her house is worth around 170,000, and she owes 90,000 on the mortgage. So she could pay that off, and keep the difference.

The other main tip is to get some free advice from something like the Consumer Credit Counselling Service.

Chris says mortgage companies tend to take people more seriously when they're getting support from a charity like that, because it shows they are trying to do something about their debts.

Depression worry

One of Jo's main worries is not understanding what exactly would happen if the house is repossessed.

But Chris says there is a set procedure, and the mortgage company would have to keep her informed every step of the way.

He said: "It can't be the case that one day everything is going on as normal and the next day, there's someone at the door asking for the keys and telling you to get out."

Jo is relieved but still, she's finding it hard to cope.

She said: "I lay awake at night and go to the doctor's for depression. It's just a complete mess. We will survive, but we need a roof over our heads."

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