Nearly one fifth of people said they had borrowed money to meet a mortgage repayment last year, according to research by the housing charity Shelter.
At least 19% of people quizzed admitted to borrowing in some way to keep their home, with 2% relying on a high-interest payday loan to cover costs.
Others had dipped into an unauthorised overdraft, borrowed on their credit card or asked family or friends for the funds, a survey of almost 3,700 people revealed.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, urged those who are struggling with their rent or mortgage costs to seek help.
He said: "Our message today is don't keep your worries to yourself. Shelter's expert advisers can be the difference between keeping your home and losing it."