Belfast Telegraph

Case study: 'They demanded money that I didn't have'

By Lesley Houston

Among those living on the "financial knife edge" as depicted by the Housing Rights Service (HRS) are a couple in their 50s who live in Co Down.

The man, who declined to be named, said it wasn't so long ago that he was facing daily threats over the phone from his mortgage lender when he began to default on his monthly payments.

Self-employed, he bought his home 10 years ago when "the going was good".

When the economic slump hit Northern Ireland, his business took the full force of its knock-on effect.

Things worsened still when his wife became ill and he had to turn work down to stay at home to look after her.

"I became depressed, I lost weight and I couldn't eat or sleep and they (his lenders) were on the phone to me six or seven times a day demanding money from me and I didn't have it," he said.

He was forced to live off his credit cards at the time before finding no alternative but to remortgage his home to pay them off.

When the arrears began to stack up he ended up in court.

"The judge told me about the HRS and if it hadn't been for them, well I don't know what I would have done," he said.

Another couple, Laura and Alistair Bushe of Ballywalter, are "riding it out" until the value of their house returns to its purchase level of £165,000 at the peak of 2007.

Laura said not long after they bought their home prices soared to £200,000 – but its value has since fallen to around £100,000.

"We are happy here so we'll just wait until the price goes up, so it's just a waiting game," she said.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph