Mortgage Stress Victoria helps homeowners across the state, as mortgage stress reaches tipping point

            

Stephanie Tonkin, Director of Operations + Strategy, Mortgage Stress Victoria at WEstjustice

3 June 2022

Even before the recent interest rate rise, an alarming 44% of Victorian households with a mortgage were in mortgage stress.i Eight of the top 12 postcodes in Australia experiencing highest numbers of mortgage stress are in Victoria.ii Despite unemployment figures below 4%,iii mortgage stress and cost of living pressures continue to growiv and interest rates are increasing, all set against a background of record-high household debt levels.v

Mortgage stress is, by definition, financial stress.vi While a tight financial position might be manageable, as interest rates increase or a life event takes place – injury or illness, relationship breakdown, job loss or underemployment, death in the family, new child – there is significant risk of the household falling into financial crisis and being unable to afford a roof over its head.

Mortgage Stress Victoria is concerned that we have reached the tipping point. Growing financial pressure could lead to a wave of homeowners being evicted from home ownership and, with increasingly limited rental options, falling straight into homelessness.

WEstjustice’s expanded Mortgage Stress Victoria service

WEstjustice has expanded its specialist services for people in mortgage stress to all Victorians (referral information below). Our integrated team of lawyers, financial counsellors and social workers are accepting referrals and enquiries for any person who:

  • Has a mortgage
  • Is in financial difficulty
  • Is in Victoria.

What we help with

Mortgage Stress Victoria helps mortgage-holders to resolve their mortgage debt and many surrounding issues putting housing at risk: other debts/credit issues, fines, family violence/economic abuse, insurance disputes, motor vehicle or workplace accidents, addiction, mental health and gambling issues. We provide urgent Advice + Rights and ongoing casework support.

What’s emerging

In recent weeks since opening our services state-wide, we have seen majority of referrals late in the cycle of mortgage stress, involving legal proceedings and notices to vacate. This suggests lenders are picking up enforcement of mortgage arrears or existing judgments following a quiet period during COVID-19, and while the housing market is still strong. We have managed to intervene and put a hold on enforcement for each of these cases, preventing eviction of families from home ownership into homelessness.

Mortgage Stress Victoria helps people across the spectrum of financial difficulty, from those experiencing early financial difficulty through to receiving default notices, legal proceedings and home repossession. The sooner a person seeks help with their mortgage stress, the more options they will have to deal with the mortgage stress, its drivers and impacts.

Referring a person for help

Are your clients or people in your network experiencing financial difficulty? If they have a mortgage in Victoria, we can help.

Please contact us to discuss any of the above, or refer a person for support:

We can assist people with any combination of legal, social work and financial counselling support as required.

 

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i Digital Finance Analytics, 2022, ‘Mortgage Stress Grinds Higher [Before Rate Rises]. Accessed online: Mortgage Stress Grinds Higher [Before Rate Rises] – Digital Finance Analytics (DFA) Blog.

ii Ibid. iii ABS, 2022 Labour Force Australia. Accessed online: Labour Force, Australia, April 2022 | Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au).

iv Digital Finance Analytics, 2022, ‘Household Stress and Scenario Update’. Accessed online: https://nucleuswealth.com/wpcontent/uploads/2022/01/DFA-12-Jan-2022.pdf

v Core Logic, 2020 https://www.corelogic.com.au/news/could-household-debt-levels-be-trigger-another-round-credit-tightening

vi There are various definitions of mortgage stress. One common definition is a lower-income household paying more than 30% pre-tax income on mortgage repayments (ABS). Digital Finance Analytics defines mortgage stress as households in negative cashflow.

WE are located

  • Footscray
  • Werribee
  • Sunshine
Footscray

Level 1 / 72 Buckley Street, Footscray VIC 3011 (temporarily closed)

Tel: + 61 3 9749 7720
Fax: + 61 3 9749 8276
Email:  admin@westjustice.org.au

Office hours:
Monday to Friday, 9.00am-1.00pm and 2:00pm-5:00pm. (Office currently closed due to COVID-19 situation)

Please call us to get legal help (appointment time needed).

Werribee

Level 1 / 8 Watton Street, Werribee VIC 3030 | Mail: PO Box 2199, Werribee VIC 3030

Tel: + 61 3 9749 7720
Fax: + 61 3 9749 8276
Email:  admin@westjustice.org.au

Office hours:
Monday to Friday, 9.00am-5:00pm. (Office currently closed due to COVID-19 situation)

Please call us to get legal help (appointment time needed).

Sunshine

Visy Cares Hub, 80B Harvester Road, Sunshine VIC 3020 | Mail: PO Box 627, Sunshine VIC 3020

Tel: + 61 3 9749 7720
Fax: + 61 3 9749 8276
Email:  admin@westjustice.org.au

Office hours:
Monday, Wednesday & Friday, 9.30am-1.00pm and 2.00pm-4.30pm. (Office currently closed due to COVID-19 situation)

Drop-in service on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 9.30am-4.30pm, for people up to 25 years old ONLY. (Office currently closed due to COVID-19 situation)