Housing Rights analysis of the latest Housing Bulletin
The Department for Communities has released the Northern Ireland Housing Bulletin, for 1st July – 30th September 2016. The Bulletin demonstrates ongoing trends in several current policy issues, such as homelessness, housing supply and house prices.
4,924 households presented as homeless to the Housing Executive in this quarter; this is an increase of 9% from the previous quarter. The number of households accepted as “Full Duty Applicant” homeless also rose to 3,906 – an increase of 15% from the previous quarter. The most common reasons for presenting, and being accepted as homeless remained the same: “current accommodation not being reasonable”, and a “sharing breakdown/family dispute.”
Building Control recorded 1,973 new dwelling starts between July and September, whilst there were 1,568 starts and 1,209 completions under the Social Housing Development Programme.
The future development of social housing has been affected by last September’s ONS announcement that housing associations in Northern Ireland (as well as the rest of the UK) will be re-classified as public bodies. This would mean that housing association borrowing would effectively appear on the public “balance sheet”, and constrain the development finance available to housing associations.
The average Northern Ireland house price in this quarter was £124,093. This is a marginal rise of 0.8% from the previous quarter, but also means that house prices have risen 5.4% in the last year.
The Bulletin shows that house prices have been steadily rising in Northern Ireland since winter 2013. However, prices remain significantly below their pre-crisis peak of £224,670. This means that there is still a significant tranche of Northern Irish home-owners in substantial negative equity. It is also likely that repossession actions will begin to increase significantly, having been stalled in the wake of an FCA review into “double-billing” practices originally raised by Housing Rights.
Homeowners who are facing Court action, in mortgage arrears or just struggling to keep up their payments can contact our Mortgage Debt Advice Service by phoning 028 9024 5640; visiting our advice website housingadviceNI; or chatting to an adviser online.