Today Minister for Social & Family Affairs Mary Hanafin has announced that additional money advisors will be appointed to 19 of the busiest Money Advice & Budgeting Service offices around the country, with immediate effect.
The Money Advice and
Budgeting Service (MABS), funded by the Department of Social and Family Affairs, is a … free, confidential, independent and non-judgmental service for people in debt or at risk of getting into debt.
MABS offers levelheaded advice about dealing with financial difficulties.
“Contact your lender as early as possible, preferably before the difficulties actually begin. If you are due to be laid off, for example, let your building society or bank know as soon as you can. Explain your situation openly and honestly.”
The Guide to Dealing with Arrears in Housing Loans outlines some sound options.
- Check Insurance Claims
Your mortgage may be covered by payment protection. If so, claim as early as possible to avoid missing any time limits stated in the policy.
- Maximise your income
Check you are getting all your social welfare and tax entitlements. Your local Citizens Information Centre will be able to help you (your local telephone directory contains details of the Centre nearest you). There may be other ways of maximising income, letting a room for example with the lender’s permission. Pay extra each month on top of your mortgage repayments. Work out what you can afford first given your other commitments and approach your lender on this basis.
- Ask the lender to add your arrears to your mortgage
When you have created a pattern of payments (by making your payments weekly or fortnightly instead of monthly you can do this much quicker), your lender may be willing to add the arrears onto the balance of your mortgage. However, your repayments increase for the remaining lifetime of the mortgage.
- Increase your mortgage term
If your mortgage has 12 years left to run, your lender may be willing to extend this to 20 years for example. Although your monthly payments will decrease, in the long run you will pay more than you otherwise would have done. There may be costs involved, so extensions of a few years may not be worth your while.
- Take a payment break
Your lender may be prepared to give you breathing space to allow for circumstances to improve, if your difficulties are only likely to be short term.
- Consider interest only payments
Again, if your problems are hopefully short term, the lender may be willing to accept just the interest part of the payment. This is only likely to benefit you if you are some years into a straightforward repayment mortgage.
The MABS Helpline is staffed by Helpline Advisers who can assist you deal with your debt problems.
MABS Helpline: 1890 283 438 ( 9 a.m – 8 p.m. Monday to Friday)
You may also find the following guides useful: