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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Housing Repossessions Taskforce Conference being held today in Belfast

Representatives from Housing Rights Service will be contributing to a Housing Repossessions Taskforce Conference being held today in Belfast. The conference will open up discussion on a range of options currently under consideration by the Respossession taskforce, a group set up in February 2014 by Nelson McCauseland.

The conference will show how Northern Ireland's current high levels of negative equity, arrears and possessions set it apart from the rest of the UK. It will consider and develop options for borrowers in Northern Ireland who are affected by these problems. There will be around 100 invitees from government, mortgage lenders and the advice sector in attendance, including representatives of Housing Rights Service.

Contributions from Housing Rights Service

Ursula Toner, Legal Advice Manager with Housing Rights Service, will be presenting information based on our own clients' journeys, from falling behind on payments to seeking advice. 

From April 2013 – March 2014, Housing Rights Service Mortgage Debt Advice Service helped over 1,600 people in Northern Ireland. 70% of these households contacted Housing Rights Service after legal action had commenced. Ursula Toner will be drawing on our experiences in the advice sector to help conference attendees consider what obstacles need to be overcome to encourage households to seek help for their debt problems at a much earlier stage.

Janet Hunter, Director of Housing Rights Service will be facilitating discussions on the experience of our Mortgage Debt Advice Service.

Looking to other jurisdictions

The conference will also look to other jurisdictions to see how they have supported people out of home ownership. Discussions will cover

  • Mortgage-to-Rent schemes in the Republic of Ireland, England and Scotland;
  • Supporting access to social housing and the private rental sector;
  • Assisted Voluntary Sale schemes; and
  • Private Sector Lease Scheme in England.

Consideration will also be given to what approaches could be used by lenders to proactively help borrowers in distress including engaging with the advice sector early on.

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This article was written on 5 November 2014. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.