Pay off mortgage sooner versus home repairs

Hello all! I am a lurker but posting as I have a money dilemma. Bought a flat in London UK 8 years ago and haven’t done much work on it other than the bathroom because there was no shower (only a bath) and the original 70 year old toilet (think chain pull) kicked the bucket and had to be replaced. We accrued savings to do the rest (new kitchen to replace decrepid 90s one, new flooring, new windows, plaster walls and ceilings) but didn’t end up doing this due to the pandemic. Now we could get the work done but are considering using the money to pay off the mortgage early instead as times are getting hard. We do pay double every month but still owe £166K and could probably get it below £100K in a year if we put all our savings into it. At the moment we are due to pay it off in about 6 years if we can keep up the overpayments but could maybe get it down to 3 or 4?

The only downside is that without doing the work we don’t have a lot of scope for renting the flat out if we left London for any period of time given that the encroaching fascism political environment in the UK means running away is never far from the back of our minds.

Does anyone have any advice?

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I’m not familiar with UK finance versus US but we refinanced our mortgage a year or so ago because the rates were so low. We had been paying extra on our previous mortgage but now it makes more sense to not pay extra and keep that money liquid instead.

What’s your current interest rate? Any idea what rate you might be able to get off you refinanced? If your place were fixed up, about how much do you think you could rent it out for?

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I would personally lean towards doing the repairs, but doing them slowly enough that you’re still holding a fairly large pool of savings for all the potential unpredictability of the near future.

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I don’t know how UK mortgages work, but one question:

When you pay ahead on your mortgage, does that mean that you don’t need to pay for however many months you are ahead? So if you pay 12 extra months of mortgage, does that mean that you don’t need to pay for the next 12 months?

A lot of US mortgages, at least, don’t let you hold off on payments if you pay ahead. So, you can be ahead but lose your job, miss three payments, and then lose your house – while still being 9 months ahead on the mortgage, for example.

If this is a possible situation, I would not sink a significant portion of my savings into paying ahead but not actually paying off the mortgage.

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Personally I would not pay off the loan early if it has a reasonable rate(under say 4-5%). To keep you safe in an emergency I would keep some of the savings accessable and do the upgrades slowly. This allows you to have safety even while you are paying it off.