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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Keeping Sarah and her son in their home

Homelessness Awareness Week's (HAW) aim is to highlight the issue of homelessness across Northern Ireland, and to mark the continued efforts of organisations, staff, and service users working in the sector. In recognition of this, we look at how Housing Rights recently helped Sarah, a Housing Executive tenant at risk of losing her home. This is just one example of the many ways Housing Rights works to prevent homelessness in NI. 


Sarah is a Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) tenant. Her marriage had broken down, and she was raising her 10-year-old son alone. Sarah was initially able to pay the rent on their home even though her ex-husband was not contributing any financial support to help her raise their son. However, a cut in her hours at work meant that she could no longer afford the rent on her Housing Executive property.

Sarah contacted Housing Rights when she received legal notification of the NIHE’s intention to pursue possession of her home due to the rent arrears. 

How Housing Rights was able to help

An adviser from Housing Rights contacted NIHE on Sarah’s behalf to investigate how the arrears had accrued and to establish how much Sarah's weekly rent was.  Our adviser helped Sarah to take a detailed look at her finances and put a repayment plan in place to pay off the arrears.  The Housing Executive was happy to give Sarah time to work with us and put a stop to the enforcement action once Sarah started making payments again.

After looking at Sarah’s financial documents, our adviser noticed some inaccuracies related to Sarah’s Housing Benefit and wrote to NIHE on her behalf.  The NIHE acknowledged that there had been an error in Sarah’s Housing Benefit calculation as they had not disregarded childcare costs during a period of statutory sick pay when Sarah was recovering from an operation.  The NIHE awarded a backdated payment of Housing Benefit and this cleared Sarah’s arrears. 

Keeping Sarah and her son in their home

Following our intervention, Sarah’s home was no longer at risk of losing her home and she was in a better financial position.

I am totally relieved. Because of Housing Rights my problem has been solved.  I don’t know how to thank my adviser.
I will never forget what he has done for me.

When everyone has a home

Housing Rights believes everyone should have a home. A home is the foundation which allows people, not only to develop important family and social relationships, but also to gain an education, employment and access to other important services such as health and social care. Ultimately, it helps people to realise their potential and to make a positive contribution to society.

If you would like to support us in our work, please make a donation, attend a fundraising event or tell people about the work we do on facebook or twitter.

As part of Homelessness Awareness Week, there will be a series of events running from 30 November to 8 December

Tagged In

Repossession, Social Tenancies, Affordability

This article was written on 29 November 2016. 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.