A non-performing asset is a debt obligation in which the borrower has not paid any previously agreed upon interest and principal repayments to the designated lender for an extended period of time. The nonperforming asset is therefore not yielding any income to the lender in the form of principal and interest payments.
For example, a mortgage in default would be considered a non-performing asset. After a prolonged period of non-payment, the lender will force the borrower to liquidate any assets that were pledged as part of the debt agreement. If no assets were pledged, the lenders might write-off the asset as a bad debt and then sell it at a discount to a collections agency.