Step 3 Dealing with your priority debts

Priority household debts​


Household mortgage

Mortgage arrears are very important because you could lose your home if you do not pay them. They must be treated as a priority debt.

Check all your loan agreements to see if they are ‘unsecured’ or ‘secured’ on your home. If they are secured loans, treat them as priority debts because lenders can go to court to repossess your home if you cannot pay your monthly instalments. They can then sell your property to pay off your debt.

Has your lender taken you to court?

You cannot be evicted from your home without a court order. You will not be evicted on the day of the hearing.

Before a lender can take court action to repossess your home, they should follow the steps set out in the pre-action protocol for mortgage possession claims. Lenders should consider all options before taking steps to repossess your home. Courts should take into account the pre-action protocol when deciding what order to make.

Dealing with mortgage or secured loan arrears

It’s never too early, or too late, to contact your lender. You may not be behind yet or your lender may have started court action. Whatever the situation, do not delay. Contact your lender as soon as possible by writing, phoning or making an appointment to see them. It is important that you pay as much as possible towards your mortgage or secured loan. If you have not paid anything for a while, you should start regularly paying what you can, even if you can’t afford the full monthly payment.

There may be benefits, tax credits or Universal Credit that you are not claiming or other ways of increasing your income. If you receive certain benefits, you can get help from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) with some of the interest payments on your mortgage. This is a secured loan and not a benefit. Check if you have any mortgage payment protection insurance that you can claim.

Have you been treated fairly?

If you think you have been treated unfairly, you may have reason to complain. You can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service but you must complain to your lender first.

See our fact sheet:


Household mortgage arrears

For more information about how to deal with mortgage arrears, see our detailed Household mortgage arrears fact sheet.

This fact sheet covers the following areas.

  • Coming to an arrangement with your lender.
  • What to do if you can't afford your mortgage.
  • What if my home is worth less than the mortgage?
  • Second mortgages or secured loans.
  • What if my mortgage lender takes me to court?