Total: £0.00

picture of telephone  click icon for access to housing law in practice reference manual for membersMailing ListTwitterFacebook  YouTube

When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

How going to court can save your home

January is always a busy month for our services as people make resolutions to sort out their debt and housing problems.  Getting help can make a massive difference to clients facing repossession, even if they leave it to the very day of their court hearing.  Last week, our adviser at court helped one vulnerable family save their home:

Paul and Marie have four children; 2 of whom are disabled. Marie was gravely ill last year and Paul, who had been made redundant, became her carer. Paul made a claim for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).  He didn’t get any advice on his entitlement to benefits and the family struggled trying to stretch his ESA to cover the mortgage.

Arrears built up on the mortgage. Paul was told to attend court the first week of January this year. Despite being nervous and frightened Paul knew he had to go to court if he wanted to save the family home.

Free help at court from Housing Rights Service

Luckily, once at court, Paul was approached by Maria, who works for Housing Rights Service.  Maria, and her colleague Eamonn, attend court every day to provide court representation to homeowners and tenants who don’t have access to a solicitor and who are facing repossession.

Quickly, Maria was able to determine that Paul was entitled to Support for Mortgage Interest but hadn’t claimed it.

Maria calculated that Paul’s monthly payment of SMI and the backpayment he was entitled to would cover the current monthly mortgage instalment.  Paul has 18 years left on his mortgage term, so Maria worked out that he could clear his arrears by paying £30 a month on top of his regular monthly mortgage payment.

The court accepted this proposal and granted a suspended possession order on these terms.

Help at court scheme makes huge difference for people in NI

Paul was hugely relieved. He had thought that his family were going to end up homeless. Paul tells us that he and his family had been under unbearable stress, but that the whole family is now able to sleep more easily.

Maria and Eamonn attend hearings for possession in the High Court and at County Courts across Northern Ireland. They provide free advice and representation to homeowners and tenants who risk losing their home because of mortgage or rent arrears.

Further information

Find out more on the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme and the other ways we can help members of the public with housing and debt problems.  

Housing Rights Service offers a range of professional resources on housing and debt including:

We also offer a range of training throughout the year including Dealing with Housing Debt which is running this month.

Tagged In

Repossession, Homelessness, Affordability

This article was written on 14 January 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.