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Home repossessions decrease by more than a third in a year

The number of people sinking so far into debt that they risk losing their home through repossession has fallen by more than a third in a year.

Judges handed out 746 orders during a three-month period between October and December, 2013, compared to 1,140 the previous year.

Nicola McCrudden, a manager at the Housing Rights Service charity, said the number of repossessions had been high for five years.

"We worry that an increase in interest rates could have devastating consequences for homeowners already struggling to get by," she said.

A total of 716 cases for home repossession brought to court by mortgage companies last year were dealt with during the autumn quarter, a 36% decrease from the same period in 2012.

A total of 461 orders granted by judges were for possession and 182 were suspended possessions, Courts and Tribunals Service figures showed.

Ms McCrudden said an expert repossession taskforce had been established. It met for the first time last week and is due to produce a report by the end of June detailing the extent and nature of the repossession and negative equity problem.

She added: "The taskforce must be solutions-focused and consider practical measures which will help to keep people in their homes."

Years of falling house prices in Northern Ireland have left many who bought at the peak of the market in negative equity.

Belfast Telegraph