There are lots of sources of financial support out there, but knowing what you’re eligible for can be confusing. Here we’ve compiled a list of the support you can access if you’re having financial trouble specifically related to owning a home.
If you only take one thing away, make sure it’s to get in touch with your providers as soon as possible. Providers and lenders will be able to provide more help, more quickly, if you are upfront about your financial position before it becomes untenable.
One of the largest costs for many homeowners are their monthly mortgage repayments. These payments can quickly become unaffordable if you find your income has decreased as a result of being furloughed, losing freelance work, or finding yourself unemployed.
Many mortgage lenders are now offering the option of taking a ‘mortgage holiday’ which allows you to take a break from making payments for 3 months. However you may also have insurance policies which can aid in covering your mortgage payments, or even replace some of your income. These could be part of your mortgage agreement, or part of a life insurance policy. They could be described in your policy as: ‘Payment Protection Insurance’, ‘Mortgage Payment Protection Insurance’, or ‘Accident, Sickness and Unemployment insurance’. It’s worth being in touch with your provider to see what’s included in your policy.
Note: Usually, there is a minimum time period before your provider will be able to pay out. This could be a few months long. Make sure you talk to your provider as soon as possible to avoid delays.
Many utilities providers have now committed to offering help and support to those suffering financial hardship as a result of coronavirus. If you are worried about paying your gas and electricity bills make sure you get in touch with your provider as soon as possible. They’ll be able to arrange for you to make more affordable repayments, or will help you switch to a tariff suited to your current situation.
If you have a prepayment meter, your provider should arrange for a way for it to be topped up. This could be by sending credit through the post, having money automatically added to your meter, or by sending someone out on your behalf to top the meter up. For the duration of the crisis, electricity providers have now suspended any disconnection of meters as a result of non-payment.
Water companies have, like mortgage brokers, agreed to offer payment breaks or holidays for those suffering financial hardship due to coronavirus. If you are worried about paying your water bill get in touch with your provider to discuss your options. They may offer you a payment holiday, or adjustments to your payment plan to make it easier for you to afford.
If you miss a council tax payment your local council will be in touch after 14 days to ask you to pay what you owe within 7 days. If you don’t you will be required to pay a full year’s council tax upfront.
Council tax is classed as a ‘priority debt’ meaning that if you miss your payments it can have a huge impact on your credit score. Because of this it’s vital that you get in touch with your local authority if you think you won’t be able to pay before you miss the payment. They will be able to arrange a payment plan or discuss options with you. And, by being in touch before you miss the payment you’ll avoid damaging your credit record.
If you’re on universal credit or a low income you might also be able to claim a council tax reduction. But most local authorities won’t backdate payments, so if you’re claiming universal credit for the first time, apply for your council tax reduction straight away, to avoid paying more than you need to.
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