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Using the last three quarters’ insolvency numbers, PKF Accountants predict that 20,000 more Scots will go bust this year, warning that even those Scots who feel they are relatively comfortable could also be at risk through unexpected redundancy and extra squeezes on their finances through the ongoing downturn in the economy. PKF refer to those who can only pay the interest on their debts each month as 'zombie' debtors as any slight change in their circumstances means they are likely to be plunged into insolvency.

PKF also predict that around 25 Scottish firms a week will go bust this year as the latest business insolvency figures for the third quarter of 2011 saw the number of companies becoming insolvent rise by nearly 50%  compared to the same quarter of 2010.

Not all doom and gloom though, on a positive note at least the Scottish consumers have a decent Insolvency and debt repayment program which in my view is far more advanced than that which we have in England and Wales.

For a start, it only cost £100 to go into sequestration, the Scottish term for bankruptcy, as against £700 here in England. They also only pay for three years under a Protected Trust Deed (PTD) the Scottish equivalent to our Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) where here the payment term is at least five years and which some cheeky lenders stretch it to six.

The Scots also have legal protection when entering into a debt repayment program under the Scottish Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS), something we are sadly lacking somewhat back in England and Wales.

News article - The rise of the Scottish 'Zombie' debtor

Read more: Despite the expected rise in Scottish insolvencies, it’s not all bad news up there

 

As far back as July 2009 the OFT decided, after an in-depth look at the way payday loans, pawnbrokers and home-credit worked for consumers, to back away from recommending price controls on expensive forms of short-term borrowing. In short this was the green light for Payday loan companies to flood the market and go against the cries of many debt advisers.

The OFT has said that although this form of borrowing is expensive, it actually serves a purpose for those on low incomes needing short-term borrowing so they were wary of barring it. The OFT also felt that intervention would not necessarily address problems in this sector because controls might reduce competition and if these firms were not around then there was a serious risk consumers would go to an unlicensed money lender, a loan shark.

Why consumers take out Payday loans

There are millions of consumers who just do not plan/budget for an unexpected expense. For example, the car breaks down and money is needed to get it fixed in order to get to work or the washing machine needs replacing sooner rather than later. Many consumers I talk to say they took out such a loan to pay a pressing bill such as council tax to avoid the bailiffs calling.

The banks don’t offer short term loans other than an authorised overdraft. Payday loan companies will argue that their loans are cheaper than an unauthorised bank overdraft and yes, they are right if the payday loan is paid in full within the time frame agreed.

65 Payday loans

I know of one chap, Steve Perry, who has 65 Payday loans, each taken out to pay off interest and meet other payday loan commitments and who has now started a campaign against Payday loans. More can be found here Say No to Payday Loans

No credit checks

One of the major problems with a payday loans is that they are too easy to qualify for. All you need is to be 18 or over, have a bank account and be working. However I am hearing of cases where unemployed people are still qualifying and taking out these loans.

Because there are no affordability or credit file checks it is inevitable that many consumers will not have budgeted for the repayment of the loan and will eventually default. This means that the late payment charges, often at over 2,000% interest, can soon get out of control and be greater than the payments being made resulting in the debt growing daily!

Credit Unions

People on low incomes with a chequered credit history need to be given a level playing field and be made more aware of other means of borrowing, such as from a credit union which can be  considerably cheaper.

It just does not seem fair or justifiable for those on low incomes to have to pay extortionate rates of interest for the profit of the lender if they fall behind with their payments

Banned in the USA

Payday loans are banned in 15 states in the US because of the way lenders rack up the interest rates once a borrower falls behind with the payments. Should we think of banning them here as well?

The bottom line is that a Payday loan is really only suitable for those looking to pay back after just a few days. Beyond this the cost to the borrower can be obscene - miss a payment or two and it gets out of control. So the moral of the story is, if you need to use one, do what you’re supposed to do and pay it back in full on payday.

DebtWizard guide to payday loans, door step loans, logbook loans and loan sharks

 

Read more: Are payday loans terrible money-making schemes that prey on the desperate and the vulnerable, or...

 

Four times a year the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) releases quarterly house repossession figures and each time we get fooled into thinking that at least things are not as bad as they were back in 1991 when 75,500 homes were repossessed. But are they? I think we are pretty close to it.

In their latest release, on 10 November 2011, the CML now predict that it is likely that the total number of repossessions in 2011 will be lower than their original forecast of 40,000.

However, in my humble opinion, although the statistics are collected correctly by the CML they do not accurately reflect current market conditions or account for other factors, which make the situation far different from how it appears.

Here are my thoughts.

The impact of ‘Sale and Rent Back’ Schemes

The first thing to look at is the number of homes being sold by families to private landlords under 'Sale and Rent back’ (SAR) schemes, often referred to as ‘flash sales’. These schemes weren’t around in 1991 at the height of the last repossession crisis when house repossessions peaked at 75,500.

Back in October 2008 The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said, ‘It is likely that there are upwards of 1,000 firms, together with an unknown number of non-professional landlords, who have conducted about 50,000 transactions to date’. That’s over three years ago!

So do we know how many homes last year or this year have been or will be sold under the SAR scheme in order to avoid repossession and which therefore will NOT appear on the CML register?

Only first charge holders are recorded in the figures

Another damning factor is that the CML only record first charge holders: they do not record second charge holders, who are lenders with secured loans on the property. Why is that?

CML uses old data to put together the repossession figures

It can take between 6 and 12 months to have a home repossessed, even longer now with the introduction of various government backed schemes (see below) and the latest figures for the third quarter of 2011 are based upon those householders who experienced financial difficulty up to almost a year ago.

So all those home owners who are missing the first payment this month and can no longer meet their mortgage payment will in theory not surface or appear on the CML register until well into next year!

Government backed scheme

The Mortgage Pre-action Protocol, which commenced back in 2008, is one example of a government backed scheme which could act as a delaying factor in eventual repossession for some home owners, just postponing the inevitable and adding further debt and eventual repossession through deferred payments.

Credit card and redundancy payers

Research by Shelter earlier this year  has revealed that two million people are using their credit cards to meet their current mortgage and rent commitments. And don’t forget those who are paying the mortgage from their redundancy pay.

Historic low interest rates since March 2009

Many more  households would have had their homes repossessed if Bank of England interest rates were at the same levels as in 1991 (Feb 13% dropping to 10.5% by Sept) at the height of repossession figures compared to the current  33 consecutive month run of the Bank Rate being at 0.5%.

How many mortgage holders are there on Tracker and Standard Variable Rates (SVRs) paying around a third of what normal payments would be because of the current 0.5% Bank of England rate?

How many are twitching every time the Monetary Policy Committee meets to decide whether rates should go up? More to the point, where would the housing market be if we had interest rates comparable to those back in 1991?

There is a positive side however as some house owners are taking advantage of low interest rates and paying over the top each month in order to get their mortgages down and so they will not be complaining. But how many home owners are doing this and more to the point how many are twitching?

Read more: Are you being fooled by the latest CML repossession figures?

 

I am never surprised at the lengths debt collectors will go to recover money for their clients, but what can you expect when these individuals and companies are on commission? The more they collect the more they earn for themselves - it’s not rocket science.

When was the last time you heard someone saying that they couldn’t wait for their friendly debt collector to pop round for tea?

Creditors and debt collectors, in a lot of instances, work under the rule of “he who shouts the loudest gets paid” and they will therefore annoy, badger, disturb, exhaust, harry, jade, perplex, pester, plague, tease, tire, torment, trouble, vex, weary and worry to get paid, in other words to “annoy or trouble constantly”, reference: Collins dictionary.

People won’t talk about being in debt and debt collectors know this which is why they get away with murder, knowing that little will be done about their tactics for fear of letting out their dirty secret.  Also most of us, through lack of awareness, simply don’t know our consumer rights when faced with aggressive debt collectors.

Just a few days ago the OFT released their updated ‘Debt Collection Guidelines Oct 2011’ which included a section banning debt collectors from ‘poking’ users on Facebook or leaving messages. Some collectors had also moved on to Twitter in the hope of embarrassing the debtor into coughing up money.

Apart from some of these messages being less than subtle, even threatening, with some social network users complaining of intimidation, whatever messages were left could invariably be read by others.

Debt collectors were not just trying to embarrass debtors into paying their debts, they were gaining valuable information about their prey, such as ‘just about to go to the Caribbean for two weeks all inclusive’ or ‘just got my new iPhone 4S’ which told a debt collector that people had the means to pay and were a ‘won’t payer and not a can’t payer’.

Well before social network sites were thought of, debt collectors would put cards through letter boxes or communal hallways in flats saying they had called. Another trick was to leave phone messages at the borrower’s home so that they could be picked up by anyone, or to post a card saying ‘call this number you have won something’.

I remember a few years ago when a firm of solicitors wrote to me asking if I knew the whereabouts of my ex neighbour who had moved some months earlier. The letter said they needed to contact him urgently but a quick punt around on the net revealed they were after collecting a debt!

As long debt collectors are paid a commission on what they collect we will continue to see all kinds of inventions, scams and cons to get contact, a bite.

Other improvements in the new guidelines mentioned above include the need for clarification over statute barred debts (old debts) for both England and Scotland, (although I feel the Scottish came out better on this), disputed debts and instructions on what debt collectors need to do when dealing with consumers that have mental health issues.

Hopefully, as a result of these revised guidelines, we will see less of the sort of activities mentioned above and hopefully, a certain debt collector will stop calling one of my clients up to six times in the same day!

More on the debt collection guidelines here - OFT to stop the shady side of debt collection plus template letters for harassment, disputed debt and old debts.

Read more: OFT tells debt collectors to stop ‘poking’ debtors

 

As UK unemployment hits a record 17 year high it is still a worrying trend for many families on how they will cope as very few people will have been prepared with no safety net.

My real concern is how these individuals will motivate themselves into getting back to work having had rejection time and again when applying for jobs, and it is becoming the norm for firms not even to acknowledge the applicants letter.

Depression, alcohol or crime

I know from experience with dealing with consumers that many will not address their debt issues for well over a year from when they first arose, many will ignore the fact that they have a serious debt problem growing daily and for some they will unfortunately drop into depression and or turn to alcohol, gambling or even crime in an attempt to solve their debt problems.

Pills for depression overtake pain killers

Another worry is the revelation what I was told a few weeks ago by a chap high up in the Pharmaceutical industry. He informed me that at around April of this year the sales of pills for depression had overtaken those for pain killers!

Impact on Insolvency figures

I know some will eventually find new jobs but some will are unlikely to match or improve on their previous salaries and as a result thousands upon thousands will free-fall into debt. From this a segment will end up proposing either an Individual Voluntary Arrangement, (IVA) go bankrupt or enter into a debt repayment programme.

Unfortunately there will also be others who will not be able to pay their mortgages which mean they will eventually lose their home. These high unemployment figures will have an impact on both the insolvency and house repossession figures.

Can’t payer or won’t payer?

I would like to see both creditors and debt collectors show more understanding and sympathy towards borrowers who find themselves suddenly out of work and should take note when someone is a ‘can't payer’ instead of a ‘won’t payer’.

Been made redundant?

For those unfortunate enough to have  been made redundant, or are unemployed then see my guide on how to work out what any redundancy payment, on-line benefit calculator, your rights, jobs and skills search and help in applying for work, plus more.  What to do if you become unemployed

How to deal with those debts

Debt can consume your life. These people need support from their families, friends and creditors both emotionally and financially. They also need to have clear goals on how they can manage their debts.

The best way to start is to draw up a budget wizard, prioritise which creditors need to be paid first such as mortgage and rent, followed by utilities. This and other useful pointers can be found in the Debt Survival Kit.

It is a clear fact that once you get control of your debts you regain control of your life!

Top five key unemployment figures June - August 2011

Read more: It’s time we all started to support the unemployed, creditors and debt collectors as well!

 


A guest blog by Emma Bryn-Jones

For those who feel that free advice may not be for them, it is important to be sure of a reputable company that sets and sticks to professional standards. But where are they?

Emma Bryn-Jones reports on her day at the annual DRF Conference. The Debt Resolution Forum is one of two professional associations for debt management companies (the other is DEMSA), and has been opening its doors to the wider communities of advice, collections and insolvency practice for some time.

The Office of Fair Trading were there, The Insolvency Service, the Money Advice Liaison Group, the Money Advice Trust, Advice UK, DEMSA board members, countless banks, collections agencies, insolvency practitioners, technology specialists and a room full of professional debt management companies.

You’d be forgiven for thinking there’d be a show-down - money-grabbers brought to heel, so to speak. But the DRF were having none of it, for here was a group of people so far beyond basic housekeeping that their conference oozed hope and a new era of transparency and co-operation.

Perhaps, like so many British companies, commercial debt professionals are realizing that corporate social responsibility is so much more than a list of charities to which they donate, and are putting the relationship back into relationship marketing. We should hear them out, at least.

When the Insolvency Service talked openly about working within a remit for small government, there were parallels with the not-for-profit forums I've attended – how do we work smarter, achieve more for less and if the government will not legislate, are we able to self-regulate towards a common protocol?

The Debt Advisor even suggested sharing investments in new technology with the free to client sector. Who’d have thought that a fee charger would want to help those uncertain of funding? And with not a mainstream journalist in sight, it was hard not to believe the offer was genuine.

When collections agencies complained about up-front fees, there was a kerfuffle – livelihoods depend on this – and I guess if you accept that free or paid, every advisor needs a salary, you can see why. Even so, talk of alternative payments ensued, a desire to offer the best deal, clearly genuine.

With consumer interests to the fore, DebtWizard questioned how debts are sold on for a fraction of their value, yet debtors are still chased for the full amount. You’d have thought this would send the creditors and collectors packing, but far from it - an ethos of collaboration transfixed the room.

I found my own prejudices challenged. Nottingham based AMS Debt Doctor is direct and outspoken, fiercely defensive and, for some, a little too ready to question the status quo. They have just signed up to a comprehensive programme of the Edexcel CertDR training, showing commitment to a recognisable standard.

On my journey home with the DRF Adviser of the Year, I was struck how a hairy rocker could talk so eloquently and passionately about customer service. I understood why it felt a bit like a vicar winning the Church raffle, when Cleardebt’s own David Mond presented his employee with this prize. Even industry leader, Paymex, laughed off the odd jibe.

Of course, grumbles emerged. People who have invested heavily in an ideology or a business model will always be fiercely protective of their achievements. It will take time before we see the fee chargers and free providers agree a level playing field, but there is most certainly hope that the OFT’s vision of transparency is coming.

So where does this leave the consumer? Far from the melodrama of boo to the baddies and hurrah for the good, the days of charlatan barbers hacking off pounds of flesh to recover your debts are numbered. Yes, there are scam artists, who thrive on the immediacy of the Internet, and we may never catch them all, but by working smart, we may not have to.

As dialogue progresses, expect to see common principles, new technologies, specialist niches, social enterprise, free to fee hybrids and joint initiatives to tackle social exclusion. Look out for organisations that subscribe to the high standards set out by the Money Advice TrustR3, the DRF and DEMSA and if they ain’t listed, don’t go there.

Emma Bryn-Jones, Zero-credit Founder and Business Development Director

Emma founded Zero-credit in June 2009, whilst working part-time as a teacher. Her experience spans over a decade in international research followed by another in education. She has gained the trust and respect of leading industry, public and third sector organisations.  Zero-credit


Mike Thomas was also present at the conference, those twitterers among us can search under #debtdebate

 

Read more: Debt management never looked so good

 

We all know that debt help charities have an important role in helping over-indebted consumers resolve their debt issues. However, there must now be serious concern about their future levels of service as they begin to suffer a serious lack of funding. The Citizens Advice Bureau, which is funded through local authorities, is seeing on average just over 9,000 new debt enquiries every working day, that’s before their funding cut.

Citizens Advice Bureau started life as an emergency war service. World War II was declared on 3 September 1939 and the first 200 bureaux opened their doors the very next day.

The people that work for the CAB

Of the 26,000 people who work in the service, 20,000 are volunteers, all from different backgrounds with different skills. They perform a variety of roles from giving advice to fundraising, IT, administration, publicity, local campaigning and trusteeship.

To find your nearest CAB office just click on the following link and enter your postcode Citizens Advice Bureau office locator.

It is believed that there were around four million debt enquiries to the debt charities and commercial firms from over-indebted consumers during 2009 of which some would have been multiple applications and this figure is expected to climb further over the next two years.

Although it’s difficult to be exact, many experts believe that the free sector of the debt advice industry can only handle nearer the two million new debt enquiries per year, surely that figure will now have to be revised.

So where does this leave the consumer that needs to get help and advice on their debts? It is predicted that many more will now have to go to the commercial sector.

Is that a bad thing? It’s arguable that if it wasn’t for the fee charging commercial sector then the debt charities would have collapsed under the volume of enquiries several years ago.

Over the past 15 years or so this country's economy has been fuelled by consumer borrowing. Morally and socially we have been encouraged to spend and pay later through slick marketing and the easy availability of credit and from this we have developed a culture of 'must have now'.

Successive governments have encouraged consumer spending so government should reinstate reasonable levels of funding to ensure that the charitable sector can operate properly for those that choose it.

It looks though as if debt service, not advice, is going the way of private education and health insurance - you will have a choice, either go to a debt charity and be prepared to wait a while or go to a fee charging firm for the extra service it provides.

The debt service industry is improving rapidly however, with debt advice firms registering with the two trade bodies, DEMSA and DRF. Any debt advice agency/firm that is not registered with either of these should be avoided at all costs.

In debt and don't know what to do?

Most consumers are underprepared when they hit a debt crisis and this can lead to harassment and bullying from the debt collector. We show you how to keep control, detail your consumer rights, where to go for free debt advice, when to contact the lender and who to pay first. Go to Debt Survival Kit

Need to know who to contact with debt issues then go to our list of contact details of organisations that will help you free of charge. Helpful Organisations

Read more: How will the CAB cope with funding cuts?

 

H M Government e-petition link

I am well aware of some people’s views on  consumers who are in financial difficulty,” it’s their own fault, they could have said no and they are responsible for their own demise” then they boast, “I have  a current account, why should they be entitled to have one if they can’t be trusted with money?”

Few people run up debts with the sole intention of not repaying them. For the average consumer their fall is usually a result of an unexpected trigger such as a relationship breakdown, illness, an unexpected job loss or a similar life-changing experience.

A culture of ‘must have now’

Let’s not forget that as a result of slick marketing, the easy availability of credit and previous governments’ encouragement of consumer borrowing to fuel the economy, the past 15 years or so has seen the development of a culture of ‘must have now’.  With millions of consumers now stuck with unmanageable debt what help are they getting from some of the major banks and the previous government?

Unless you’ve been through a torrid time with your finances you can only begin to imagine the stress, trauma and anguish people go through when confronted with debt collectors, solicitors and bailiffs. Then, having to open a bank account with an institution they do not owe money to can be a demoralising, and difficult thing to do, especially for someone depressed and anxious to take control of their finances and make a fresh start.

Once they have managed to do this, RBS basic account holders now find they are restricted as to where they can draw out cash, being only allowed to get free withdrawals from the bank’s own ATM, basically being penalised for not being credit worthy because they don’t have a current account.

It’s not just the RBS punishing consumers

As well as the RBS, Lloyds and other banks have been tightening the screws, with the Nationwide Building Society last year telling customer with cash card accounts that they would have to take out a minimum of £100 if they used the counter service in its branches and HSBC basic account holders only being able to withdraw cash at the counter, though they can make other transactions.

It doesn’t wash with me that basic bank accounts cost money to run and are not a cost effective option for the banks. It works well enough for the Co-op bank about which I have heard good reports of their sympathetic and supportive approach to consumers who wish to open such an account.

So now is the time to support those that have had money woes and put them on an equal footing with the rest of society and not restrict the locations where they can withdraw money free of charge. Not every consumer lives in a High Street with a choice of ATMs. Those that live in the countryside may have to drive many miles just to get access to that free cash machine.

Many consumers with unmanageable debts actually rebuild their financial situation over time and begin to again contribute to our society through tax and national insurance contributions. People in debt are not to be treated as pariahs of society, since when was it a crime to be in debt? How about 141 years ago!

If you need to open a basic bank account and are worried that you may be refused then take a look at our list of banks and building societies which offer basic bank accounts. We also detail what will bar you from opening an account as well as what services you can expect to get from them.

Read more: Government owned RBS punishing basic account holders

Reverse the decision of RBS to restrict cash machine access by its basic bank account holders sign the H M Government e-petition

 

 

Read more: Government needs to get RBS to re-think its policy on basic account holders

 

The debt collection regulator Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has issued related "minded to revoke" (MTR) notices to Roxburghe, HFO Services Ltd and HFO Capital Ltd, all of which are trading names of HFO Services, on 20 May.

If you log on to www.roxburghe.com you will see that they state, in a very prominent position, that they were ‘Consumer debt collector of the year 2009’.

To balance things out why don’t they add the following? ‘We have been issued with a ‘Minded to refuse/revoke licence’. That to me is just as important as the other statement!

They also have a section on their website under the heading of -

The real difference is people;

It states;-

What makes Roxburghe truly stand out from traditional debt recovery agencies is the diligence we apply to training and developing our personnel. This is how we ensure that all your debtors will be dealt with sensitively, according to their situation.

All Roxburghe staff are encouraged and equipped to help our clients and their debtors achieve a positive outcome.

I just wonder how this statement stands scrutiny in the light of the OFT’s action.

Has action by Roxburghe, HFO Services Ltd and HFO Capital Ltd affected you?

If you have been affected by any of the above firms and wish to furnish information to the OFT to help them decide whether they are fit and proper to hold their licence to trade then write to the OFT as the address below. Make sure to add the following in the heading of the letter or at the beginning of the OFT address;

Information re HFO/Roxburgh Licence

Enquiries and Reporting Centre
Office of Fair Trading
Fleetbank House
2-6 Salisbury Square
London
EC4Y 8JX.

Minded to refuse/revoke a licence

Where there are substantiated doubts about a trader's fitness to operate, the OFT issues a 'Minded to Refuse' or 'Minded to Revoke' Notice (MTR).

This is a formal notice advising the applicant or licensee that the OFT is minded to refuse to grant them a licence or is minded to revoke their existing licence. It invites them to make representations to an independent OFT adjudicator who will make a decision on the case.

The trader retains their licence until the adjudication process and any subsequent appeal is concluded.

It's not a crime to be in debt

Many individuals who are in debt are often subject to unnecessary harassment by lenders so it is important that they know their rights and how to deal with overzealous debt collection agencies.

Just remember it is not a crime to be in debt so ensure you are treated with respect. The last debtor’s prison was shut in 1869 and society has moved on somewhat.

Below we have two links which will help you understand your consumer rights;

Office of Fair Trading (OFT) Debt Collection Guidelines


How to stop creditor harassment + template letters

We explain what is harassment, what you can do if you feel you are being harassed, what legislation is out there to help you and we also offer two template letters to send to the 'harassing' debt collection agency/lender.

Harassment Letter 1 - This letter is designed to send to the lender or Debt Collecting Agency (DCA) pursuing you for a debt you do not owe or is in dispute.

Harassment Letter 2 - This letter is designed to send to the lender or Debt Collection Agency (DCA) to stop harassment, in whatever form.

View harassment and template letters

Read more: In 2009 they were 'Consumer debt collector of year', in 2011 they could lose their licence.

 

A spat has broken out between Richard Banks the CEO of UK Asset resolution (UKAR), the fifth largest mortgage lender in the UK, and Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of the Citizens Advice Bureau.

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper last week, Mr Banks remarked that the last government's kneejerk reaction to pleas for lenders to keep families in their homes during the 2008 financial crisis when they could no longer afford the mortgage repayments, was forcing some homeowners further into debt. He said ‘’We face a raft of home repossessions as soon as interest rates start to rise. It's a tough love approach. It's treating customers fairly, not nicely, because if you can't afford your mortgage you are only increasing your indebtedness. If we allow you to increase your indebtedness, that's not really fair to you."

However, Gillian Guy responded saying “Encouraging forbearance is absolutely right and necessary with the current levels of unemployment and the other economic challenges people are facing. A policy of ‘tough love’ would be short-sighted and unhelpful.

When lenders were not treating people fairly and failing to show forbearance, repossession proceedings were started when people were only a couple of months in arrears. Since then lenders have done a good job with those customers facing difficulties but we are now starting to see poor practice creep back in.” Read more on this here.

I agree up to a point with Gillian Guy. In the past, lenders were too quick off the starting blocks and enforcing repossession proceedings when the mortgage holder was only two payments in arrears. Forbearance has helped some house owners to recover control of their finances and get back on track with their mortgage payments. Without this support it would have meant repossession.

Not if but when interest rates increase

However I agree with Richard Banks in that when it is obvious that the mortgage holder cannot service the mortgage and the arrears and interest are climbing out of control and piling up on the debt, then yes, repossess and take the misery and stress of an ever increasing debt burden away from the house owner. I share his concern that not if, but when interest rates rise to combat inflation, we will see a surge of repossessions over the following 18 months – 2 years as house holders’ mortgage repayments undoubtedly increase.

The real worry: what happens AFTER repossession?

Many of those whose homes are repossessed often have a mortgage shortfall (the difference between the amount realised at the sale of the property and the amount of mortgage, arrears and interest outstanding) running into tens of thousands of pounds. Added to this shortfall can be the cost of the locksmith, gardener, window cleaner, legal fees as well as the interest on the debt!

Those who have had their property repossessed often believe the debt has gone away because they have not heard from the lender for many years. However lenders have 12 years from the date of the last acknowledgement or payment on the debt to start chasing it. It simply will not just fade away!

Read more on the time limits to recover here - House repossession debt / mortgage shortfall claims

Where to get help

Anyone struggling to meet their mortgage repayments, or worried that they might have difficulties in the future, can get free independent advice from their local CAB. The earlier you seek advice the greater chance you have of staying in your home.

The Bureaux has helped with 103,487 mortgages and secured loan arrears problems between April 2010 and March 2011. Find my nearest CAB office

Also see our list of 'Helpful organisations which include all the major debt charities'

Read more: Are we being too kind to those with unmanageable mortgage arrears?

 

RAPID DEBT HELP FORM

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