Northern Ireland news

Repossession rates on the rise in Northern Ireland

Repossesion rates in 2016 are set to be the highest in Northern Ireland out of the entire UK. Picture by Rui Vieira, Press Association
Gareth McKeown

HOUSING repossession rates in Northern Ireland are on course to be the highest in the UK in 2016.

According to figures from mortgage service company HML, a total of 887 repossessions are due to take place during 2016, which would represent 0.27 percent of residential mortgages: a higher rate than for Scotland, Wales and all the English regions.

Andrew Jones, chief executive Officer for HML called it a "real concern" that the rates were so much higher here than across the UK.

He said those hit hardest by financial pressures such as unemployment were at a particular risk and a future interest rate rise would increase the rate of repossessions.

The company expects that the East Midlands and the South West of England will have the lowest repossesion rate of 0.06 percent and predicts a second consecutive year of low repossession rates in 2016 for the UK as a whole.

HML’s figures vary significantly from those put forward by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) in December last year, which forecast a dramatic increase in repossessions (to 18,000).

Meanwhile, in the Republic a senior courts official who last year said repossessed homes should be nationalised, has called for "big bang" solution to their housing crisis.

At present more than 5,500 people are homeless - a third of them children, tens of thousands of people are on waiting lists for a council house and rents have passed peak boom levels with a home in Dublin costing on average of E1,464 a month.

"We need a big bang in relation to finding property for the public housing sector," Edmund Honohan, the government-appointed Master of the High Court said.

Mr Honohan told the Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness there is no law to stop compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) for repossessed or vacant houses or properties where an owner is threatened with repossession.

"We need to assert the right of the Irish government to attend to a national crisis in as economic and efficient a way as possible, and this certainly is as economic and efficient a way, the immediate seizure of vacant properties," he continued.

Mr Honohan said the initiative would freeze evictions and repossessions and give room for a mortgage to rent scheme to allow people to live in the homes and lease them from the state.

The barrister further branded modular housing costing E243,000 a unit a "joke situation".

Mr Honohan said outright purchase of distressed or repossessed homes was the better solution.

The hearing took place as residents from an estate in Tyrrelstown, west Dublin, protested outside over the purchase of their rented homes by investors in Twinlite Developments.

Forty tenants have said they have received evictions notices and more than 100 others are in homes owned by the company.

Mr Honohan also said public private partnerships should be abandoned.

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