I’m struggling to make my mortgage repayments. What should I do?

Updated 12 November 2020

You may find this factsheet useful if you are struggling to make your mortgage repayments (“repayments”) and you have not received a default notice from your bank yet.  

If you have already received a default notice, you should read our factsheet about how to respond to default notices.

This fact sheet covers:

  • How to get financial help 
  • The importance of acting quickly 
  • How to negotiate with your bank  
  • Your options if you can’t reach an agreement with your bank 

Get financial help

The first thing you should do is speak to a financial counsellor. A financial counsellor will be able to help you to: 

  • Work out why you’re struggling to make your mortgage repayments 
  • Organise your financial situation 
  • Prioritise your debts 
  • Negotiate with your bank 

If you are hoping to negotiate with the bank to change your repayments, a financial counsellor will be able to help you decide what change is best for you. 

You can call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 for free financial counselling. The helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4.30pm. 

Act quickly

You should act quickly by contacting your bank immediately if you want to negotiate a change to your repayments. 

You should contact the bank immediately if: 

  • You have missed or are going to miss a repayment; or 
  • You are likely to miss a repayment in the future because something has happened (for example, you have lost your job, you have experienced a domestic relationship breakdown, you have been diagnosed with a serious medical condition or a family member has died).   

It becomes harder to negotiate with your bank once you have missed a few repayments. 

Negotiate with your bank to change your repayments 

You should first try to work out a solution with the bank by contacting your bank’s financial hardship team and asking for a change to your repayments. 

It’s best to do this in writing so you have a record.

You should include details such as: 

  • Details of your home loan 
  • A request to change your repayments  
  • How you want to change your repayments (for example, extending the term and reducing each payment or postponing payments for a temporary period).  
  • Reasons for your request (for example, because you have lost your job) 
  • If you are a vulnerable customer (for example, because you are elderly or have a disability) 
  • How much you can afford to repay & how long the hardship is likely to last  

If you would prefer to speak to the bank, make sure to make notes of the conversation. Contact telephone numbers for the major bank lenders’ hardship teams are: 

  •   ANZ Customer Connect – 1800 252 845; 
  •   NAB Assist 1800 701 599; 
  •   Commonwealth Bank Financial Assist 1300 720 814; 
  •   Westpac Assist 1800 067 497; and 
  •   Suncorp Customer Assist 1800 225 223. 

   Tip: Speaking to the bank

The bank is unlikely to agree to a change to your repayments unless you can show that you will be able to stick to the changed arrangement. A financial counsellor will be able to recommend the best arrangement for you

  Note

What if I simply can’t afford to make any repayments and my circumstances are unlikely to change?

You should speak to a financial counsellor as soon as possible to discuss your options. You need to find a solution that’s best for your own personal and financial circumstances. Negotiating a change to your repayments is not the right choice if you won’t be able make any repayments even after the change. You must make sure that you do not commit to any arrangements you cannot afford.

What are my options if the bank doesn’t agree to my request? 

If you’re not happy with the bank’s decision you can make a complaint to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA). You should read our factsheet on resolving problems with your bank at AFCA before making your complaint.  

You should get legal advice before taking this step.  

   What if my bank has given me a mortgage holiday because of COVID-19?

The bank should contact you before the mortgage holiday ends. However, if you can’t afford to start making repayments again, you should contact the bank as soon as possible to try to negotiate an arrangement.

For example, you could ask the bank to extend the mortgage holiday for a few more months or ask if you can start with interest repayments only. The sooner you start to negotiate with the bank, the better your chances of finding a solution.

 

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