Millions pay mortgage with credit cards

Nia Williams

January 11, 2010

Despite restrictions on credit and reports of many people paying off personal debt, an exclusive YouGov poll for the charity’s ROOF magazine reveals a disturbing picture of over a million people taking desperate measures with credit cards to keep a roof over their head.

The highest proportion of those who pay their rent or mortgage through credit card were from working class professions (8% of those in the C2DE social grouping), but the poll also showed that middle/upper class (ABC1 category) are also falling victim, with 4% of respondents saying they use credit cards in this way.

Many could find themselves facing homelessness this year because of their huge debts, especially as defaulting on credit card payments could trigger repossession in the worst case scenario.

The survey asked if respondents had paid their rent or mortgage by credit card in the past 12 months. Six per cent of those who were liable for the rent or mortgage said yes – suggesting a national figure of more than a million people.

The charity is issuing a stark warning to people about the dangers of using credit cards which could result in the loss of their home. Credit card companies have to recover their debts and are not subject to the same rules as mortgage lenders. Once they obtain a charging order on people’s property, credit card companies can go back to the court for a possession order to force a sale to recover the debt.

Kay Boycott, director of policy and campaigns at Shelter said: “This is a shocking discovery, that over a million households in Britain are in such desperate circumstances that they need to borrow money on credit cards to pay for basic housing costs.

“If people are already struggling to the extent that they fear losing their home, increasing credit card debt cannot be the answer. It is absolutely vital that every single person using credit cards in this way seeks advice urgently to get the help they need to ensure they don’t lose their home.”

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