Increase in households facing repossession
NI Court figures for January to March show an increase in the numbers of repossession cases. Local charity, Housing Rights, is urging those struggling with their mortgage to get free independent advice as early as possible.
Catherine Feely, Advice Services Manager with the charity commented: “We are not surprised at today’s increase; housing debt is a common problem facing many people across Northern Ireland. Our Mortgage Debt Advice Service is consistently busy with increasing numbers of people getting in touch because they are worried about losing their home. People do not need to struggle alone, our advice is completely free just call 0300 32 30 310 and talk to one of our advisers.”
Housing Rights operates a dedicated Mortgage Debt Advice Service on behalf of the Department for Communities. Last year the service assisted over 1400 households. The charity also provides emergency representation at Court.
Local house prices remain 50% below their 2007 peak and Northern Ireland has the highest levels of negative equity in the UK.
A repossession taskforce was established in 2014 by the Social Development Minister to look into repayment arrears, repossession and negative equity in Northern Ireland. In its final report the taskforce determined that recent improvements in the national housing market have not been seen locally. In addition many local households who are just making ends meet are highly sensitive to any changes in interest rates or reduced availability of work.
Ms Feely continued: “Being faced with losing your home is very frightening but I would urge people to get in touch with their lender and get free independent advice as soon as possible. It is also really important to attend Court hearings. The earlier you get help the more options are available however it is never too late to get advice.”
People experiencing difficulty with mortgage or secured loan debt can contact Housing Rights on 0300 32 30 310 or visit their public advice website www.housingadviceNI.org which is funded by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.