Almost half a million cash-strapped homeowners have missed a monthly repayment on their mortgage in the past six months, according to research from MoneyExpert.com.
The financial-comparison site says 463,000 people, most aged between 25 and 34, have failed to meet a payment deadline since July 2007, representing around 4 per cent of the 11.8 million mortgages outstanding in Britain.
MoneyExpert.com says, though, that the recent Bank of England base rate cut will ease the pressure on household finances.
Sean Gardner, chief executive of Money-Expert.com, said: "Missing a mortgage payment doesn't incur an automatic charge like failing to pay your credit card bill. But it is a sign of real distress, as keeping a roof over your head should be the priority for most of us.
"It's clear that many homeowners are feeling the strain of successive rate hikes, but if the result is that you can't pay your mortgage then you should take action immediately.
"If you are struggling to afford the repayments, don't stick your head in the sand. A phone call to your lender can ease the pressure enormously."
Meanwhile, 2007 as a whole proved the strongest-ever year for gross mortgage lending, which reached an estimated £362bn, up 5 per cent on the £345bn figure for 2006, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
However, December gross lending declined to an estimated £22.6bn, its lowest monthly figure since May 2005 and down 25 per cent from the £29.9bn in November and 21 per cent from £28.6bn in December 2006.
A 6 per cent seasonal fall might typically be expected between November and December.