Two-fifths ‘uncomfortable discussing finances with mortgage lender or landlord’

25 September 2023, 00:04

Models of houses on coins
Budget pressures. Picture: PA

People renting privately would feel particularly uncomfortable about discussing budget pressures with their landlord, according to charity StepChange.

Two-fifths (39%) of people who rent or have a mortgage would feel uncomfortable about discussing their finances and budget pressures with their lender or landlord, a survey indicates.

The research, carried out for debt help charity StepChange, found people renting privately would feel particularly uncomfortable about discussing budget pressures with their landlord.

For mortgage holders, the proportion was three in 10 (30%) but for renters in the private rented sector more than half (55%) felt uncomfortable.

Nearly a fifth (18%) of people who have a mortgage or rent were unsure of who they would be most likely to speak to if they had financial issues, with the number rising to 25% for private renters.

Free debt advice charities can help people who have fallen behind or are worried about how they will pay their rent or mortgage.

Many lenders have also signed up to a mortgage charter to give borrowers reassurance about the support that is available.

Mortgage holders who are struggling could, for example, extend the length of their mortgage to reduce their monthly payments, or go interest-only with their payments temporarily.

Vikki Brownridge, chief executive of StepChange Debt Charity, said: “We know from our experiences with clients that it can take someone a long time to open up and seek help if they’re struggling with their finances, and it can be especially daunting to discuss debt problems with the people you owe money to.

“However, lenders and social landlords are required to support their customers who are facing financial hardship, which is especially vital during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

“Charities like StepChange offer free, impartial debt advice, and our trained advisers are on hand to talk you through your options and your budget.

“We have dedicated teams able to speak to anyone experiencing problem debt, regardless of their housing tenure, and assess their options depending on their personal circumstances. Our new homeowner hub provides a one-stop-shop for mortgage-based advice and support, and we have extensive experience supporting private tenants.”

Nearly 2,000 people across the UK were surveyed by YouGov in September for StepChange.

Chris Norris, policy director for the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), said: “We recognise the cost-of-living pressures that many renters now face and would encourage all those struggling to speak to their landlord as early as possible.

“Although it can be difficult and uncomfortable to talk about financial matters, our research shows that the vast majority of private landlords respond positively to requests for help where tenants need it.

“Ultimately though the biggest driver of rents is the lack of available properties to let. The Government needs to take action on two fronts. First, by developing pro-growth tax measures to ensure supply meets tenant demand and, secondly, by unfreezing housing benefit rates to support the most vulnerable with their housing needs.”

Charles Roe, director for mortgages at trade association UK Finance, said: “Reach out to your mortgage lender as soon as possible if you are struggling with your finances; there’s a wide range of support available that can be tailored to your specific circumstances. Simply contacting your lender to discuss options won’t affect your credit file.

“All lenders have teams of experienced experts ready to help anyone who is worried about their mortgage. Last year, lenders helped over 200,000 borrowers who couldn’t meet their full mortgage payments.

“What’s more, 47 lenders representing over 90% of the market have signed up to the Government’s new mortgage charter, providing even more help for borrowers.”

By Press Association