Support for Mortgage Interest
If you're a homeowner and get certain income-related benefits, you may be able to get help towards mortgage interest payments. This is called Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI). SMI is a loan, which you’ll need to repay with interest when you sell or transfer ownership of your property.
About Support for Mortgage Interest
SMI is sometimes known as ‘help with housing costs'. It can help towards mortgage interest payments:
- for a mortgage
- for a loan to buy
- to improve your home
It cannot help you pay:
- the amount you borrowed (only the interest on the mortgage is paid)
- insurance policies
- mortgage arrears
SMI is normally paid directly to your lender. There’s no guarantee you will get SMI for a loan you take out.
You may be eligible for SMI if you are a homeowner and get one of the following benefits:
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Universal Credit
- Pension Credit
You can get a loan:
- from the date you start getting Pension Credit
- after you have claimed any other qualifying benefit for 39 consecutive weeks
- after you have been getting Universal Credit for nine consecutive months. You should note that any earned income you get when you are on Universal Credit will affect the date when you can start to get Support for Mortgage interest payments
You might still be able to get SMI if you apply for one of the qualifying benefits but can’t get it because your income is too high. In this case you will be treated as getting the benefit you applied for.
What you’ll get
If you are eligible, you’ll get help paying the interest on up to £200,000 of your loan or mortgage. This figure is £100,000 if:
- you get Pension Credit
- you started claiming another qualifying benefit before January 2009
If you already get SMI and move to Pension Credit within 12 weeks of stopping your other benefits, you’ll still get help with interest on up to £200,000.
The interest rate used to calculate how much SMI you will get is currently 2.09 per cent. If you have a lower interest rate than this, you will receive more SMI than is needed to meet your payments. These payments can only be credited to your mortgage account.
How to apply
If you are receiving a benefit other than Universal Credit, you can apply by downloading and completing the following claim form:
To check if you can get an SMI loan and for queries, contact your local Jobs and Benefits office, Employment and Support Allowance Centre or the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.
Free advice is also available from:
If you claim Universal Credit, you can suggest that you would like to apply for SMI while making your online claim to Universal Credit.
Repaying your loan
You’ll need to repay your SMI loan with interest when you sell or transfer ownership of your property.
The current rate of interest is 3.03 per cent from 1 January 2023. This rate can go up or down but it won’t change more than twice a year and you will be told if it’s going to change.
If there isn’t enough money from the sale of your home to repay the SMI loan in full, the rest of the loan will be written off and you won’t have to repay it.
If you want to repay the loan more quickly, you can make voluntary repayments. The minimum voluntary repayment is £100 or the unpaid balance if it’s less than £100.
How to repay
Contact the Department for Communities Debt Management. The Loan Management team will issue a settlement letter and this will tell you how much you need to pay.
You can pay:
- online - using the bank account details in your settlement letter
- by telephone - you’ll need your bank, building society or card details and your settlement letter
Other financial help with housing costs
You can still get financial help with your housing costs if your Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance is going to stop because you are about to:
- return to work full-time
- work more hours
- earn more money
This is called the Mortgage Interest Run On. Find out if you qualify at the following page: