According to consumer body Choice, understanding our right to vary our loan under conditions of 'hardship' could save some home owners anxiety and the possibility of defaulting on their mortgages, . Under the Uniform Consumer Credit Code, those in temporary difficulty with a loan can apply for an extension to the loan term or reduce regular repayments - but a recent Choice report shows that many borrowers are unaware of this right. While opinion is divided about how widespread mortgage stress is, figures show that repayments on new loans as a percentage of household incomes are higher now than in the past twenty years. "A responsible lender will make defaulters aware of all their options before moving to repossess their homes but many people don't know about this facility and the law doesn't require lenders to explain it," said Choice media spokesman Christopher Zinn. "If a lender refuses you a hardship variation, you can still have the matter heard by a relevant court or tribunal and, if they are a member, complain to an external dispute resolution scheme." If you miss a repayment, contact your lender and a financial counsellor immediately to explore all of the options. Choice also warns against unscrupulous and predatory lenders who encourage those in financial difficulty to seek early access to their superannuation - it can mean you lose both your home and part of your super. "Avoid a situation where your lender could repossess your home, as mortgagee sales are often well below market value as well as highly distressing," he said. CHOICE's tips to avoid mortgage stress include making sure you have your lender's best rate, perhaps with a more basic but cheaper loan, or extend the loan term - keeping in mind that while repayments might be reduced in the short term, the total interest bill will be higher in the long term. the above information was taken from the Quartile property network's newsletter.