The fourth in our 'ask the expert' series, which sees Kevin Boon of the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) discuss the best ways to unlock capital without selling your home.
Q. Dear Kevin, I am hoping you can help me. I am a pensioner getting a small amount each month from my pension, since I retired 9 years ago. I live with my wife who is also retired and draws a pension, and we own our house together outright because we when we retired we used our savings to finish paying off our mortgage. However this has left us having to use credit cards to make to cover all our costs each month, as the money from our pensions isn't quite enough to pay for everything. Over the years this has built up and now we are struggling to meet the credit card bills. We have no savings as we sunk almost all of these into our house, and the rest has now gone and we don't have anything else. We don't want to borrow money from our children as they don't know we're struggling, and don't have much themselves either anyway as their money goes on our grandchildren, but we also don't want to sell our house and move because we are settled in a nice area in Yorkshire for over 25 years and our close friends are all nearby. The house is also all we have to pass on to our children when we go. We want to pay back what we owe, so what options do we have? Is there any way we can get back the money we have locked into our house without selling it? - Gordon , Yorkshire
A. Hi Gordon. One of the options you could consider, that may be suitable for your circumstances, is equity release. Equity release allows you to release money - the equity - in your property and continue to live there. People often choose this as an alternative to selling their property and it allows them to then use this money to help pay off their debts.
You can only consider equity release if you are over the age of 55 and are a homeowner. The amount of money you can release from your property varies and depends on your age and the value of your property . Your property must have a value of at least £60,000. Although this doesn't apply in your case, you cannot use an equity release scheme if you have a mobile home.
Releasing the equity from your home is a big decision to make. It should only be considered once all other options have been explored, and after a financial assessment. If you are considering equity release, you can use our online debt counselling service which will provide you with the most appropriate solution to your debt problem based on your current income and expenditure. Alternatively, if you would prefer to speak to directly to an advisor, contact our free Helpline on 0800 138 1111. Lines are open Monday to Friday from 8am-8pm.
If equity release is a possibility, CCCS has specialist equity release advisors who can explain all the options surrounding equity release to you before you make a decision. If you decide to go ahead, they will find you the most suitable product available based on a whole-of-market search, and help broker the arrangement. This is impartial and free, as with all of CCCS's services.
Having problems with debt?
Every Friday, Kevin Boon of the Consumer Credit Counselling Service will answer your questions and provide expert advice on the best way to deal with debt. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Money Matters' in the email subject line.
CCCS is a national charity giving independent advice to anyone worried about debt, delivered free of charge by expert counsellors. Based in Leeds, CCCS is able to help people with debt problems wherever they live in the UK, through its free national telephone service (0800 138 1111), ten regional centres and online debt remedy service ( cccs.co.uk/debtremedy).