Belfast Telegraph

Thousands of home owners 'at risk' over short leaseholds, warns DUP's Campbell

Concern: DUP MP Gregory Campbell
Concern: DUP MP Gregory Campbell
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

More than 4,000 Northern Ireland homeowners who bought their property under so-called "Right to Buy" legislation may struggle to resell their homes, a DUP MP has warned.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell has raised the issue after being contacted by a constituent who was in the process of buying an apartment that had originally been a Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) property which was sold to the then tenant under the Right to Buy legislation.

The constituent was informed by their solicitor that the property only had a 125 year leasehold and around 30 years of this had expired.

The woman was told this would impact upon her should she wish to sell the property as it is very difficult to obtain a mortgage on leasehold properties with less than 85-90 years left on the property.

Mr Campbell said: "I have taken the matter up with the NIHE as they were the original landlords of the property with the 125 year lease. I have discovered that there are more than 4,000 such properties across Northern Ireland.

"Having raised the matter with NIHE they have informed me that 'there is currently no statutory provision' to help deal with this problem.

"If this is not resolved it will prove almost impossible for these properties to be sold in the very near future as it will only be 'cash buyers' who will be able to afford to buy them.

"Even that buyer would have to hope that at some point in the future another 'cash buyer' is prepared to buy as Banks or Building Societies will not lend money for these types of properties.

"This will seriously disadvantage those working people and families who aspire to own their own homes but do not have the capital to purchase outright."

In a letter to Mr Campbell NIHE said that 43,571 properties were sold by the Housing Executive under the statutory House Sales Scheme for the period April 1, 1998 to March 31, 2019 and 4,111 flats were sold during this period with leases of 125 years or less.

NIHE does not hold information for Housing Associations, so the total number of people affected in Northern Ireland could be much higher.

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said: “We are aware of the issue, it has been brought to our attention and the organisation is currently looking at the options available to it.”

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