Press Release

High Levels of Local Housing Repossessions Must Be Tackled Says Committee

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Thursday, 06 June 2013

Reference: SD 05/12/13

The Assembly Committee for Social Development held an important event today in conjunction with the Housing Rights Service to look at the increasing levels of repossessions and local households affected by negative equity.

Local stakeholders and Committee members heard from leading housing experts from across the UK and the South on the issue of housing debt and how it has been dealt with in those jurisdictions.

Speaking after the event, Committee for Social Development Chairperson Alex Maskey MLA said: “In the last 12 months, the Housing Rights Service, has seen a 30% increase in the number of local families seeking help and advice on this issue. This is an extremely worrying statistic. My Committee is further concerned that local repossessions continue to far exceed those in GB and the South. It is clear that our approach to this issue requires a complete rethink.

“We welcome the Minister’s plans to set up a taskforce to investigate issues of repossession and negative equity and today’s event has been organised to look at ways in which the Committee can work with the Department to develop and support this initiative.

Janet Hunter, Director of Housing Rights Service said: “The growing level of repossessions is extremely worrying. We are currently dealing with around 170 cases every month and the situation isn’t improving. I welcome the interest which the Committee has shown in tackling this issue and hope that today’s event will lead to practical measures which will improve people’s lives.”

Mr. Maskey concluded: “We must remember that the rate of repossessions has a significant knock-on effect in terms of increasing levels of homelessness and on the demand for social housing. It is crucial that we take this opportunity to work with the Minister, his Department, housing experts and stakeholders to ensure that a fully comprehensive and strategic blueprint is developed to tackle this serious issue and to improve the housing circumstances of local families.” 


Notes to Editors:

The Stakeholder event was held on Thursday 6 June 2013 at the Stormont Hotel Belfast and was attended by stakeholders from over 30 organisations from across the local housing sector. 

Speakers and topics:

NI Housing Market and the Broader Economy: Current Difficulties and Future Prospects

Dr Esmond Birnie, Chief Economist, PwC (NI)

Preventing Homelessness & Helping Homeowners at Risk

Mark Fisher Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council (involved in inception of Mortgage Rescue and Preventing Possession Fund)

How repossession and negative equity is being addressed in Republic of Ireland

Paul Joyce, Senior Policy Advisor, Free Legal Advice Centres

The Committee for Social Development membership is:

Alex Maskey MLA (Chairperson)
Mickey Brady MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Paula Bradley MLA
Pam Brown MLA
Gregory Campbell MLA
Judith Cochrane MLA
Michael Copeland MLA
Sammy Douglas MLA
Mark H Durkan MLA
Fra McCann MLA
David McClarty MLA

The Clerk of the Social Development Committee is:

Dr. Kevin Pelan
Northern Ireland Assembly
Phone: 028 90 521864
Mobile: 07917881639

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