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When everyone has a home

Housing and debt helpline for Northern Ireland – 028 9024 5640

Affordability

A benefit that helps homeowners to pay the interest on their mortgage changes to a loan today.  Local charity Housing Rights is urging households who may be affected to get advice.  The charity’s helpline is already dealing with calls from homeowners who get the benefit, called Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI), who are unsure what the changes will mean for them.

From the 6 April 2018, Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) will be changing to a loan.

SMI is a benefit paid towards the interest on a claimants mortgage and some home improvement loans. If a claimant does not opt in, SMI benefit payments will cease and they will have to pay their mortgage interest another way.

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Benefits, Money Matters, Welfare Reform, Affordability

The Housing Executive recently published their findings from the 2016 Private Tenants Survey. A total of 144 privately renting tenants across Northern Ireland gave their views and experiences of renting across a range of topics including rights as a tenant, affordability, satisfaction, and future regulation. This survey has previously been carried out in 2006 and 2012.

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Research, Private Tenancies, Affordability, Landlord

Dungannon and Portadown are the next areas in Northern Ireland to have Universal Credit introduced on the 7 March 2018.

This new benefit will replace Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credit, Income Support, Income based Job Seekers Allowance and income related Employment and Support Allowance.  Anyone of working age who gets these benefits will be affected.

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Welfare Reform, Affordability

Housing Rights adviser Amy recently helped 28 year old Ciaran. Ciaran struggled to meet his rent payments after being made redundant.

Sudden change in income

Ciaran lived in private rented accommodation, he had been working full time when he took on his tenancy and was able to fully cover the rent himself.

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Benefits, Regulation, Practical tips, Affordability, Adviser

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), released a report in February 2018 on the circumstances of home-owners and those in poverty in NI. The Home-owners and Poverty in Northern Ireland report reaffirmed concerns that there are higher numbers of homeowners in NI living in poverty than anywhere else in the UK.

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Research, Policy, Affordability

The Department for Communities announced today they have reviewed and updated the roll out schedule for Universal Credit in Northern Ireland.

As a result, the roll out phase which was due to complete in September 2018 will now be extended to December 2018.

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Benefits, Welfare Reform, Affordability

Local charity Housing Rights is urging homeowners with interest only mortgages who do not have a repayment plan in place to contact them for free advice.

The call comes on the back of concerns expressed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) that a significant number of interest only customers may not be able to repay the capital at the end of their mortgage.  According to the FCA nearly one in five mortgage customers have an interest only mortgage. 

Ursula Toner, Advice Services Manager with Housing Rights, commented:

Response for a breathing space scheme for people in serious debt

Our work includes helping people with mortgage, tenancy and other housing debts, and working to ensure that our clients are empowered to sustain their tenancies. Whilst the consultation on a “breathing space” scheme is initially relevant to England, Housing Rights welcomes the potential for this to be extended to Wales and Northern Ireland, and is pleased to have the opportunity to contribute on this basis. 

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Policy, Affordability

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