Two in five reluctant to discuss financial pressures with their lender or landlord
Two-fifths (39%) of people are uncomfortable talking about budget pressures with their mortgage company or landlord, according to research by a debt charity.
The poll of UK adults, conducted by YouGov on behalf of StepChange, found that two in five people who rent or have a mortgage are uncomfortable when it comes to seeking advice and support with their finances from their lender or landlord.
The figure is markedly higher for those in the private rented sector compared to those with a mortgage. More than half (55%) of renters said they would be very ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘somewhat uncomfortable’ talking to their landlord about budget pressures. Just under a third (30%) of mortgage holders said the same thing about talking to their landlord.
Almost a fifth (18%) of people who have a mortgage or rent were unsure of who they would be most likely to speak to if they had financial issues, with the number rising to 25% for private renters. For mortgage holders, one in 10 (11%) were unsure of who to speak to for help.
StepChange said that the crisis in housing affordability worsening due to high inflation and the steep rise in interest rates, meant the charity had seen an 18% year-on-year rise in client volumes.
For those struggling with mortgage payments and social rent, lenders and social landlords have a regulatory responsibility to treat customers and tenants fairly and must follow a series of steps to prevent someone in financial difficulty from losing their home. However, tenants in the private rented sector are not afforded the same protections.
‘Daunting to discuss debt problems’
Vikki Brownridge, CEO of StepChange, said: “We know from our experiences with clients that it can take someone a long time to open up and seek help if they’re struggling with their finances, and it can be especially daunting to discuss debt problems with the people you owe money to. However, lenders and social landlords are required to support their customers who are facing financial hardship, which is especially vital during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
“Charities like StepChange offer free, impartial debt advice, and our trained advisors are on hand to talk you through your options and your budget. We have dedicated teams able to speak to anyone experiencing problem debt, regardless of their housing tenure, and assess their options depending on their personal circumstances. Our new homeowner hub provides a one-stop-shop for mortgage-based advice and support, and we have extensive experience supporting private tenants.”