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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Older homeowners urged to get advice about benefit changing to loan

Local charity Housing Rights is urging older people who get help paying the interest on their mortgage (Support for Mortgage Interest SMI)  to seek advice as they receive notification of the benefit changing to a loan. 

The Department for Communities will be sending out letters notifying older people about the change this weekend.  Claimants will also be contacted by phone in the coming weeks in advance of the benefit ending.

Ursula Toner, Advice Services Manager with Housing Rights said:

“Change can be daunting but it is really important for older people getting notified about this change not to ignore it. If they do nothing their home could be at risk.”

Households getting SMI will be offered the option of taking a loan to replace that support. This loan will be secured on their home and they will not be required to pay it back until their home is sold or ownership is transferred. The level of help available to claimants will not change however they must consent to receiving this assistance.  Those who do not consent to taking the loan will not be entitled to any help when the benefit stops.

Ms Toner continued:

“This benefit can play a vital role in helping keep older people in their homes. The change to a loan is coming and we would urge people to get advice if they are unsure about what to do to safeguard their homes.”

Anyone worried about the change can contact Housing Right housing helpline on 90 245640 and pick option 3 to chat to an adviser.


For further information contact Claire at Housing Rights on 90 267925

Notes to editors

  • Housing Rights is the leading specialist provider of independent housing advice in Northern Ireland.  Established in 1964 the charity works to improve lives by tackling homelessness and housing problems.
  • Last year the organisation provided advice and assistance on over 43,000 housing issues.
  • The Government announced in the 2015 summer budget that Support for Mortgage Interest would be changed from a benefit to a loan.
  • The conversion to a loan will affect both Universal Credit claimants and those receiving SMI because they claim eligible legacy benefits
  • Around 140,000 households currently receive the benefit, 50% of those are of pension age.
  • Working age claimants who get SMI will be notified of the change in November.