Struggling to pay your bills, rent or mortgage

Addressing the issue before you get into arrears

Paying your mortgage

Your home is your most important asset and you must deal immediately with both (if applicable);

  • The first mortgage – the original loan that was taken out to buy your home
  • The second mortgage – this is sometimes called a second charge or a secured loan.

It is important to contact your lender straight away and tell them you have money problems. You can download our Self help booklet also contact the Housing Advice Team who will talk to your mortgage lender on your behalf. They will be able to advise you of your rights, and negotiate an affordable payment plan with your lender. They can also attend court with you if you have a possession hearing.

Most lenders are committed to helping home owners who are struggling. If your lender doesn’t hear from you or doesn’t know why you haven’t made a payment, they are more likely to start legal action for repossession of your home.

You may be entitled to help with housing costs through the DWP by way of Supported Mortgage Interest payments (SMI). Find out more on

Paying your rent

Not paying your rent could result in your losing your home. The Housing Advice Team may be able to give you advice on budgeting your money better, advice on benefit entitlement and negotiate affordable repayments with your creditors.

For information and ideas about ways to cutback and manage your money try the Money Advice Service website

Paying your utility bills

If you are in arrears with your utility bills you need to contact your supplier straight away to arrange a payment plan to cover your ongoing costs and repay the arrears at an affordable rate. Download our Self help booklet or email the Housing Debt Advice Team who can help you with this.

Gas and electricity bills are priority debts because if they are not paid you could be disconnected. The utility companies will usually give you an option to repay the arrears over 12 or 18 months. If this is unaffordable or you have defaulted on payment plans before, you may be given the option of having a prepayment meter installed.

Prepayment meters are set to deduct the arrears from any weekly payments made at an agreed rate. If you are unemployed or suffer from a disability the amount deducted can be minimal. If you have arrears of more than £50.00 and have dependents living with you, you can have the arrears and on-going charges deducted from your benefit. Therefore make sure you let your provider know what income you get and if you have any health issues.

If you are unemployed and receiving a qualifying benefit or suffer from health issues you may be entitled to have your tariff adjusted to a social tariff which is at reduced rate. Please ask your provider for details.

Many of the utility providers have Trust Funds which may provide a grant to clear your arrears. Ask your provider for details or look at the website

Paying credit cards, loans or catalogues

These debts are called non-priority debts. Remember;

  • They do not take preference over payments towards your rent, mortgage, council tax, TV License or utilities such as gas electricity or water bills
  • If unpaid, it will affect your credit status and scoring.
  • Keep your creditors aware of your circumstances
  • Recovery could lead to a County court judgement or if a homeowner a charging orders
  • Compile a financial statement to see if any token payments can be made
  • Negotiate realistic repayment plans with your Creditors
  • If unable to pay, offer a token payment of £ 1.00 per month. A sample letter and financial statement can be downloaded below
  • Take further advice if considering a consolidation loan

For further advice download our Self help booklet however if you need assistance in compiling a financial statement and negotiating with your creditors, email the Housing Debt Advice team

Struggling with bank charges

If you are overdrawn or struggling to pay bank charges and are in receipt of housing benefit, you can ask your bank not to use that benefit to pay your debts with them. This is called a First Right of Appropriation order. You will need to write to your bank 7 days before the payment is due. You need to make it clear to the bank that you will be receiving regular payments from Aylesbury Vale District Council and these should be used for rent payments only. State in the letter that you are exercising your first right of appropriation.Remember you will still have to pay any bank charges and costs associated with your overdraft.

Download a template for First Right of Appropriation letter. If you need more information email the Housing Debt Advice Team

If your bank continues to use your benefits for bank charges then you can make a complaint to the Banking Ombudsman.

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