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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

More help needed for householders in mortgage arrears

As the latest Court Service figures showing the number of actions for possession are released, Housing Rights Service is urging householders to get free independent advice and to turn up to court hearings.

Nicola McCrudden, Policy Manager with the charity said: “Living with threat of losing your home is extremely stressful and can leave people with a sense of hopelessness. This is understandable, but its important to realise that there can still be options. Even when a court date has been set people should attend as our advisers will be there to provide on the day assistance.”

Housing Rights Service is contracted by the Department for Social Development to operate the Mortgage Debt Advice Service for Northern Ireland free of charge. The charity also provides a court duty scheme to assist homeowners and tenants on the day of their possession hearings.

With the continuing economic problems, Housing Rights Service is reporting that demand for mortgage debt advice being sustained at a high level. Between April and June 2013 around 400 households contacted the service for assistance. This represents a 26% increase on the same time last year.

Given the extent of the problem the Department for Social Development has agreed to set up a working group to gather information on repossession and to identify ways to prevent its impact by 2014-15.

Commenting on this Ms McCrudden said: “Northern Ireland suffers from a huge negative equity problem which affects around seventy five per cent of our clients.  Ironically, despite our unique circumstances, we have fewer support initiatives or debt relief options in comparison to neighbouring jurisdictions.  We welcome the Social Development Minister’s commitment to establish a working group and urge him to action this sooner rather than later to prevent more people from losing their homes.”

People experiencing difficulty with mortgage or secured loan debt can contact Housing Rights Service on 0300 3230310 or visit their website www.housingadviceNI.org.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For further information, contact our Communications Team on 028 9024 5640 or email pressofficer@housingrights.org.uk

Spokespersons will be available for comment

  1. In 2012/2013 Housing Rights Service dealt with over 37,000 issues related to housing.
  2. The charity provided representation at nearly 1,000 court hearings.
  3. In August 2011 Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland announced continued funding that will allow the Mortgage Debt Advice Service to operate until 2015.
  4. The latest Court statistics on repossession published on the 16 August and are available at http://www.courtsni.gov.uk/en-GB/Publications/Pages/default.aspx