In light of an unprecedented 14 back-to-back Bank of England base rate increases, homeowners across the UK find themselves in a challenging position. The Guardian looked into the real stories of people affected by this turmoil, trying to keep a roof over their heads.
1. The Educator’s Plight
Stephen McKeown: Swindon Homeowner
Stephen bought his Swindon home in 2018, paying a comfortable £1,200 a month. But after losing his job amidst the pandemic and using up all his savings by April this year, he’s faced with the harsh reality of the current housing market.
“It’s hard to find a job at my age. Every night is sleepless,” says McKeown. Despite dropping his asking price, he hasn’t found a buyer for his home. As Christmas approaches, Stephen faces uncertainty about his housing future.
“God knows what I’ll do when I’ve sold the house. My current thought is to sell everything, find a room in a shared house somewhere.”
2. One Bill Away from Crisis
Mark: Derbyshire Homeowner
An unexpected £2,000 vet bill forced Mark, a network engineer, to miss a mortgage repayment. For 14 years, he had been managing his mortgage smoothly. But with climbing interest rates, his monthly mortgage shot from £715 to £880.
“I have been paying more than the monthly mortgage bill to bring the arrears down – last month I paid £900, but I can’t do that every month,” Mark laments. Even as he tries to catch up, his lender penalises him, making the situation even more daunting.
3. The Landlord’s Lament
Sophie Siangolis: Buy-to-let Borrower
Owning 16 rental flats might seem like a dream, but for Sophie, it has turned into a nightmare. With monthly shortfalls reaching up to £3,500 and the interest rates constantly rising, Sophie fears she might have to give up her long-held properties.
“The rents are no longer covering our mortgages. I tried to talk with some lenders about switching to a fixed rate, but they wanted to charge a fee of £3,000 for each property,” Sophie explains.
She’s deeply concerned about her tenants too. “I feel sorry for some of my tenants. Where are they gonna go? What happens to all the people renting from landlords like myself who are selling up now?”
These personal stories highlight the profound impact of the relentless interest rate hikes on homeowners and borrowers. As the year ends and the festive season approaches, the challenges and uncertainties surrounding the UK housing market remain a significant concern.