New research reveals today that one in six people in Britain have kept secrets from their loved ones by hiding or lying about rent or mortgage troubles.
Research from Shelter and YouGov paints a picture of a nation of ‘secret strugglers’ who are keeping housing worries from their partners and families. People reported secretly taking out loans, selling items such as jewellery, and even shredding bills to keep their problems hidden.
The strain of today’s sky-high housing costs is taking its toll, with almost a quarter of people (24%) losing sleep because they are worried about paying their rent or mortgage. Over the last year alone, Shelter has seen hundreds of thousands of visits to its website during the night from people looking for advice on housing problems.
The research also revealed that the stress of paying for housing is affecting relationships, with one in six people saying it has led to arguments with loved ones. The charity is urging people to ease the pressure by seeking out expert advice as soon as they start having housing troubles.
When mother-of-three Christina from Morecambe started falling behind with her mortgage payments, she hid her worries from her husband and struggled with her debts in secret.
Christina says: “Even though we both work, our mortgage debts were mounting up and I couldn’t bear to worry my husband with it. As a lorry driver he was away working long hours and I didn’t want to stress him out during the short time he was at home and should be relaxing.
“I was too embarrassed to tell my family so at first I was dealing with everything on my own. When we were finally facing losing our home, I told my husband and we went to Shelter for help. They got the repossession suspended and it was like the weight of the world had been lifted – it’s just so important to be open and get advice as soon as you can.”
Shelter’s helpline adviser, Danielle Goodwin said: “No-one should have to face the fear of losing the roof over their heads, let alone struggle with it in secret.
“Every day at Shelter we help people who are often in pieces after facing the burden of rent or mortgage troubles alone – often having been too ashamed to ask for help from their loved ones.
“We all understand how isolated financial troubles can make you feel, but we’re here to make sure no-one has to struggle with housing worries alone. Seeking advice early can ease the pressure and gives you the best possible chance of keeping your home.”
For free and independent advice from Shelter visit shelter.org.uk/advice or call the helpline on 0808 800 4444