A short guide for people with mortgage or rent payment problems
Housing Options Services
The Council’s Housing Options Service provides advice and assistance for people
with housing problems. Housing advice is available to help people with rent or
mortgage difficulties and also for people who are homeless or risk becoming
homeless. The Housing Options Service, in association with Orbit First Step, King’s
Lynn CAB and SHELTER Norfolk, helps with the operation of the schemes outlined
in this leaflet.
The Council also operates a range of initiatives aimed at preventing homelessness.
The Housing Options Service offers advice and assistance to help people with:
• help to find private rented housing,
• affordability and debt problems,
• people with housing support needs,
• people at risk of domestic abuse,
• working with a landlord and tenant to prevent eviction,
• loans and grants.
Support for Mortgage Interest Scheme (SMI)
The Support for Mortgage Interest Scheme meets some or all of the interest
payments on a mortgage for those on Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s
Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or State Pension
The waiting time before the assistance starts has been reduced from 39 weeks to 13
weeks and the capital limit has been increased from £100,000 to £200,000 for new
working-age claims. The scheme may also be useful for shared owners and
leaseholders who are facing difficulty in making mortgage payments.
• For more information on SMI, visit the Jobcentre Plus website at
www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk (leaflet IS8),
• Visit the local Jobcentre Plus office for further advice and information.
Homeowners Mortgage Support (HMS)
Homeowner Mortgage Support (HMS) is support for homeowners who risk
repossession because they’ve recently experienced a sharp but temporary drop in
income, perhaps because they have had overtime cut or hours reduced. It is a last
resort, after people have explored all other options with their lender.
HMS enables a homeowner to postpone part of the interest payment on their
mortgage for up to two years. The money postponed is added on to the remaining
balance of the mortgage, to be paid back when their situation improves. Not all
lenders are signed up to the scheme so check with your lender. To be eligible you
• Talk to your lender to see how they can help.
• Talk to SHELTER for more information on how to apply for help.
Check out the information on HMS at www.direct.gov.uk/hms
Mortgage Rescue Scheme (MRS)
The Mortgage Rescue Scheme offers two products. The ‘Mortgage to Rent’ option is
aimed at those with a mortgage (and secured debts) of no more than 120% and no
less than 75% of the current value – basically, you sell your home to Orbit First Step
and rent it back from them; and ‘Shared Equity’ is aimed at those who have at least
25% but no more than 40% equity in their property and who would be able to sustain
home ownership if part of their current mortgage was redeemed with the help of an
To be eligible for consideration you must have talked to your lender (if you haven’t
already) to see what help they can offer. And:
• All enquiries about accessing the scheme should be made through the Housing
Options Service or partner agencies (e.g. CAB or SHELTER).
• The scheme is delivered through Orbit First Step – a housing association
specialising in mortgage rescues.
• You must seek help with your finances from CAB Money Advice.
• Check out the information on MRS on www.direct.gov.uk website.
• The scheme is not available to owners in shared ownership arrangements.
Repossession Prevention Fund
The Repossessions Prevention Fund is aimed at households who risk eviction or
repossession. Loans of up to £3,000 can be used reasonably flexibly to prevent
repossessions for eligible households.
Need more advice?
If you need more information about any of these services, contact the Council on
01553 616675 or call in to the Council offices in King’s Lynn and ask to see a
Housing Options Adviser.