A FATHER has spoken about how being a ‘mortgage prisoner’ eventually left him no choice but to declare himself bankrupt.

When Northern Rock bank collapsed in 2008, Mark Ambrose found his mortgage agreement with the bank was sold on to other lenders and he quickly became stuck paying increasingly high interest rates that he could not afford.

The father-of-six had originally re-mortgaged his three-bedroom home in Poole in 2006 for £179,000 and had borrowed an additional £30,000 for a building extension to help house his growing family.

At that time, he was paying about £600 a month but his mortgage was eventually sold on. At one point he found himself paying £950 a month in interest alone.

Like many others, Mark found he could not get a new mortgage because he did not pass affordability tests and became a so-called ‘mortgage prisoner’.

Unable to keep up with the payments and after more than eight years of financial struggle, he was forced to declare himself bankrupt.

Mark, who was working as a McDonald’s manager at the time, said: “We ended up in such a state. We had debt collectors coming round, and the phone was constantly ringing. There was nothing we could do.”

Bournemouth Echo: Mark with his son Michael Ambrose. They now run the Barking Cat in Poole.Mark with his son Michael Ambrose. They now run the Barking Cat in Poole.

“It affected the whole family. The kids were afraid to answer the phone. We’d tell them ‘If anybody calls, we’re not here.’ It created stress that wasn’t needed.”

However, there is hope on the horizon for Mark. Litigation law firm Harcus Parker has taken on his case to reclaim the money as part of its no win, no fee group legal action.

The firm has secured a fresh court date in its bid to help thousands of mortgage prisoners reclaim the extra money that they paid.

Things have since improved for Mark and his family. He now runs the successful Barking Cat Ale House in Parkstone, and last year was finally switched to a fixed-rate mortgage deal with monthly payments reducing to £330.

Since the bankruptcy, he has been paying back the home improvement loan at an agreed zero per cent rate but still has £11,000 left to pay.

“It has taken a massive toll. We went through some very bad times,” he said.

“We were worried we were going to lose the house, worried we were going to lose everything.”