Dealing with your priority debts


Mortgage arrears guide

For more information about how to deal with mortgage arrears, see our detailed Mortgage arrears guide.

This guide gives you information and advice if you are behind on your mortgage. It explains your options and the processes your lender must follow.

Use this guide to:

  • find out if there is any help you can get;
  • work out which option is right for you;
  • help you negotiate with your lender; and
  • get advice about how to deal with court action.

This guide also includes some useful contacts and links for you to get further help.

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 ask the court for possession of your home if you cannot pay your monthly instalments. The property can then be sold 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 by the Scottish Government. These steps are known as pre-action requirements and mean that lenders have to consider all options before taking steps to repossess your home. Courts should not grant repossession orders until they are satisfied that the pre-action requirements have been met.

Dealing with mortgage arrears

It's never too early, or too late, to contact your lender. You may not be behind yet or your lender may have sta​rted 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. If you have not paid anything for a while, you should start paying regularly what you can, even if you can't afford the full monthly payment.

See our ​fact sheet:

Mortgages - help with your payments.

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 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?


do you have a property factor?

Factors manage some flats and tenement buildings. If you have a dispute with your factor, for example about high fees or how they are managing your arrears, you should complain to them in writing. All factors must follow the Scottish Government's code of conduct. If you are still not happy, you can complain to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber).

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. Read more about making a complaint on the Financial Ombudsman's website.