Sinn Féin - On Your Side

End exploitation of vulnerable home owners

2 June, 2008

Sinn Féin Social Development Spokesperson, North Belfast MLA Carál Ní Chuilín has said that vulnerable home owners are being exploited by private companies offering mortgage rescue schemes.

Ms Ní Chuilín said:

"The current crisis in the provision of social and affordable housing is not lost on any one here. The credit crunch is also pilling even more pressure on individuals and families.

"There has been a huge 30% increase in recent months in the numbers of homes being repossessed because people cannot keep up with their mortgage repayments.

"This Minister for Social Development in the first instance, needs to recognise the increasing financial difficulty that individuals and families are facing which has impacted on their ability obtain and indeed secure a home.

"Not-for-profit mortgage rescue schemes are virtually non-existent here, but there are private companies offering mortgage rescue for profit. What we need are innovative schemes including a not-for-profit mortgage rescue scheme. But we also need to make sure that when tenants want to buy back their share, that they should be able to do so at the market rate that was current to their first application.

"Major concerns exist around private companies that proclaim immediate solutions to homeowners who are in financial difficulty and in danger of losing their homes. Such mortgage schemes are offered by private companies and they are largely un-regulated and rarely advise applicants to seek independent advice regarding their financial situation.

"Worse still, un-regulated private companies offer little security of tenure. Tenures are often fixed and when the fixed term ends, the tenancy is based on a month by month basis, leaving tenants totally vulnerable, if the private companies decide to terminate their tenancy and homeowners are left with nothing." ENDS

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