Belfast Telegraph

Increasing mortgage debt sees 60% rise in lenders seeking to repossess

By Margaret Canning

Court actions by lenders seeking to repossess homes in Northern Ireland have gone up by at least 60% since just before the credit crunch, new figures show.

There were 939 actions started by banks and building societies against customers who were in arrears between April and June this year, according to the Northern Ireland Court Service, compared to 584 during the same period in 2007.

In the first six months there were a total of 1,795 orders sought, compared to 1,702 from January to June 2010.

And out of 628 orders made in the High Court at the end of a court application between April and June this year, there were 378 possession orders allowing a lender to take possession of a home.

But a spike of 1,124 applications to the court in July to September 2009 has not yet been equalled.

Nicola McCrudden, policy manager of advice body the Housing Rights Service, urged those facing court action not to hide from the problem. She said: “Getting good quality advice can help to save the home. The earlier people contact us the more possibilities there are, but even when a court hearing is set people should attend, as there can still be options available.

“We are very concerned about the number of families facing the prospect of having their homes repossessed.”

Less money coming into the household was the main reason people fell behind with repayments, she said.

“Reduced working hours, job loss, relationship breakdown and ill-health can lead to financial problems. People who fall on hard times are struggling to get by. The financial support with mortgage interest payments has been cut by the UK Government, leaving many people without a safety net.”

UK-wide, the numbers of repossessed properties in the first half of 2011 was 7% lower than in the first half of 2010, according to the the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

CML said there were 9,000 repossessions in the second quarter of the year, slightly lower than the total of 9,100 in the first quarter.

The total of 18,100 for January to June compared to 19,500 in the first six months of 2010.

The total number of mortgages in arrears was also broadly unchanged in the second quarter of the year. However, there was a slight increase in the number of mortgages with low levels of arrears, and a reduction in the number in deeper arrears.


Mortgage cases started in Northern Ireland courts:

2006: 2,523

2007: 2,213

2008: 3,628

2009: 3,905

2010: 3,390

2011: 1,795 (first six months)

Belfast Telegraph