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Mortgage payment holidays

Payment holidays from your mortgage could help relieve pressure you're feeling during financial difficulties. Find out more.

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Updated 19 November 2021  | 3 mins read

What's a mortgage payment holiday?

This is when your lender lets you take a break from making your mortgage repayments. It’s designed to relieve some financial pressure in the short-term, typically three to six months.

You can’t simply cancel your direct debit if you’re struggling to pay your mortgage - instead, you’ll need to speak to your lender in advance and agree a payment break with them.

Some lenders also allow partial payment holidays which can help your cash flow by temporarily reducing your monthly repayments.

Key points

  • You can relieve some short-term financial pressure by taking a payment holiday
  • You’ll need to agree any break from your mortgage payments with your lender in advance
  • If you’ve previously overpaid your mortgage, your lender is much more likely to give you a mortgage holiday
  • Taking a repayment break will go on your payment history and needing a further extension will affect your credit rating
  • If you need help in the longer term you’ll need to look at alternative options like switching to an interest-only mortgage or seeking debt advice

Do I qualify for a mortgage payment holiday?

The conditions for repayment holidays vary between lenders and depend on the type of mortgage you have and your financial circumstances.

Often, to qualify for a mortgage break, you’ll need to have overpaid on your monthly repayments in the past for a certain amount of time.

Some lenders will want you to have had the mortgage for at least 12 months and to owe less than 75% or 80% of the mortgage amount.

However, you won’t qualify for a mortgage break if you’re in arrears. In other words, if you’ve already missed payments.

Pros of a mortgage holiday

  • It can relieve the pressure for a while if you’re going through financial difficulties
  • It can help when there’s a short-term reduction in your income, such as redundancy
  • You can avoid falling into arrears which would have a big impact on your credit score
  • You have more flexibility with your finances when you need it most

Cons of a mortgage holiday

  • It isn’t a long-term solution and you’ll owe more on your mortgage in the long run
  • You’ll still pay interest each month even though you’re not making payments
  • Your repayment costs may end up being higher once the payment holiday ends
  • It’ll go on your payment history and may affect your chances of getting future credit

How to apply for a mortgage holiday

If you want a break from making your mortgage payments you’ll need to check the terms and conditions of your mortgage first and speak to your lender.

Some lenders have online applications for mortgage holidays so it’s a good idea to check their website.

Alternatively, if your lender has a high street branch, you can try arranging a face-to-face appointment. Or consider phoning your lender to find out if a payment holiday is the right option for you.

You’ll need to explain why you want to take a break from your payments and be honest about your circumstances so your lender can give you the right advice.

What happens when your payment holiday ends?

When your payment break comes to an end, your lender will contact you to agree the arrangements for you to start repaying your mortgage again.

Once this is done, you’ll usually receive a letter which will tell you your current balance, what your new monthly payment will be and when your first payment is due.

If you’re still struggling to cover your repayments, you can discuss this with your lender.

You may be offered alternative tailored solutions, like partial monthly repayments or extending your mortgage break, but this is likely to affect your credit rating.

Alternatives to a mortgage holiday

There are other options that might make your mortgage repayments easier to manage and can help to keep your finances on track.

It’s best to speak to your bank or building society, or a debt advisor, but you may also have the options of:

  1. Extending your mortgage term

    So that you pay the debt over a longer period, this will reduce your monthly payments but increase how much you owe overall due to interest being added.

  2. Switching to interest-only payments

    You’ll pay less each month but you won’t be paying off any of the capital, so you’ll still need to find a way to repay this once you reach the end of your mortgage term.

  3. Deferring your interest payments

    Your repayments will be lower but the difference in cost is added to your mortgage capital. Interest is charged on the deferred interest as well as on the capital so it can be an expensive way to borrow money.

  4. Remortgaging

    If you’re at the end of your fixed term, you may be able to save a lot of money off your repayments by finding a better mortgage deal. Locking into a low fixed rate for a few years can help you to manage your finances

Coronavirus and mortgage payment holidays

Lenders have been encouraged to help customers struggling to make their mortgage payments during the pandemic with a range of different options, including payment holidays. 

If your coronavirus mortgage payment holiday has ended and you’re still struggling, it’s important to let your lender know as soon as possible. They don’t want you to fall into debt and can help you draw up a plan that works for both parties.