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Home loans

If you're finding it difficult to make repayments on your mortgage, it's important to seek help quickly.

The first thing to do is make contact with your lender and explain your circumstances. Don't be embarrassed - your lender will appreciate you letting them know. Most lenders are keen to offer options to customers in financial trouble.

Steps to take if you're struggling to pay your mortgage

01

Work out what you can afford to pay

If you're struggling to pay back money you owe, the first thing to do is to work out what you can actually afford to pay by doing a simple budget. How to work out what you can afford to pay.

If you can afford to pay something
Start paying the amount you can afford and get in touch with your creditor straight away to put a repayment agreement in place.

If you can't afford to pay anything
Call us on 1800 007 007 straight away for advice.

02

Contact your lender and ask for the 'hardship department'

The sooner you contact your bank or lender, the better.

Ask to speak with the hardship department and explain your financial hardship. The hardship department staff will explain your options and offer a hardship variation.

Make sure the hardship variation or repayment arrangement is:

  • Affordable. If it isn't affordable, don't agree: insist on a repayment that you can afford.
  • For an appropriate term. Don't agree to a short term arrangement if you know you need several months.
  • Complete and covers what happens at the end of it. If you know you won't be able to afford higher than normal repayments when you get through your temporary difficulties, specifically ask for any arrears to be added to the loan and the term of the loan extended.

Utiliy IconThe Mortgage Relief Scheme

The ACT and Queensland have government-funded mortgage relief schemes for home-owners struggling with short term, severe financial hardship. In these schemes, interest-free loans are offered to cover arrears and some future payments.

Each of these states/territories has their own strict eligibility requirements. For more information, contact:
Department of Revenue (ACT)
Department of Housing (QLD).

We recommend you speak to a financial counsellor if you believe one of these schemes may benefit you.

03

If you can't agree, you can dispute it

If you can’t come to an agreement that you think is fair, you have a right to seek ‘external dispute resolution’ if it's available in your state or territory. This free and independent service gives you an opportunity to explain how, working with your lender, you can get back on track with payments. Refer to Dispute Resolution (Step 2)

04

Speak to one of our financial counsellors

If your problem still hasn't been solved, or you're feeling overwhelmed, call us on 1800 007 007 to speak with one of our financial counsellors.

Key questions

Can I lose my home?

Yes, it's possible to lose your home if you don't keep up with your home loan repayments. Your lender can sell your home to recoup the money they lent to you. This is called repossession.

Most lenders are keen to work with customers who are having trouble before things get to this stage. That's why it's so important to contact them early.

However, if you won't be able to afford your mortgage your repayments for the foreseeable future, then you may need to consider other options, such as getting a boarder or selling your home.

Can I use my superannuation to pay arrears?

If your financial hardship is only for a fixed period of time (for example, if you're between stable jobs), you can use a lump sum from your superannuation to pay your mortgage arrears. It may be tempting to view this as a quick-fix for mortgage arrears, but remember you're using your future retirement income on an asset you may lose anyway. We recommend speaking to a financial counsellor before going down this path.

Remember, because you're behind on your mortgage, you need an agreed repayment arrangement in place while you apply to access super. Otherwise there's a risk of legal proceedings starting while you're waiting for super approval.

Read more about using your superannuation to pay mortgage arrears.

Do I have insurance?

Check your loan agreements to see if you have consumer credit insurance for events like job loss and illness. It's possible you have a policy included in your loan contract, and the premium may even have been included in the loan.

Note that 'mortgage insurance' or 'lenders mortgage insurance' is something different. Although you pay for mortgage insurance, it's actually there to protect your lender in case you default.

Make sure you also check the insurance on your superannuation - you may have 'Income Continuance' or 'Income Protection' cover!

Know your rights
About repossession

A lender can only start legal proceedings to take possession of your home under certain circumstances.

If you've received a statement of claim or summons, or your default notice has expired, lodge an external dispute resolution (EDR) with either the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Credit & Investments Ombudsman. The lender can't continue with any enforcement (such as repossessing your home) while the EDR scheme considers your dispute. You need to lodge an EDR before the lender gets judgment.

 

A lender can only start legal proceedings to take possession of your home if:

  • you're in default of the mortgage by failing to make a repayment or repayments (or in breach of another condition of the loan); and
  • they've served you a default notice in writing asking for payment of the outstanding amount; and
  • you haven't made the requested payment within 30 days (or the time specified in the notice), or you miss another payment within that 30 days

Once the default notice expires without you fixing the debt, your lender can take possession of your home. In most circumstances, the lender will start court proceedings to either:

  • take possession of your home and/or
  • judgment for the amount outstanding

If your property is vacant, the lender may take possession without going through the court.
You only have a limited time to respond to court proceedings - if you're in this position and don't know what to do, speak with one of our financial counsellors.