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Huge concerns over increase in mortgage repossession

10 February, 2006

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has expressed alarm at the sharp increase in the number of legal cases taken for repossession in the case of mortgage default.

Mr McCann said:

"Compared to the same period last year there has been a huge increase in the number of legal actions seeking repossession. The figure for this quarter is 652 compared to 480 for the last quarter of 2004. The year on year change between 2004 and 2005 shows an increase of 36% in the number of writs and originating summonses issued. The figure for the same quarter in2002 was 324.

"In many, but by no means all, such cases where legal action is initiated the result is that the home will be reposed because of mortgage default.

"While the reasons are diverse for repossession this is clearly a situation that needs to be urgently dealt with. The Housing Executive, private mortgage lenders (including banks and building societies) have a responsibility to adopt a flexible approach to mortgage repayment.

"The fact is that year on year the average selling price of homes is
increasing 10-15% and people are being forced to take out mortgages they
simply cannot afford. We also have a situation where there is just not
enough new social housing coming on the market. The latest figures show that
over 98% of all new builds were commissioned by the private sector.

"There are clearly not enough properties available within the public housing
market to meet demand. Housing Executive waiting lists remain stubbornly
high. Increasing house prices also put young families in particular at a
disadvantage and the increasing numbers of evictions indicate that many
people are being forced to take on mortgages that are unsustainable.

"Until we take steps to put in place a housing strategy that meets the need that exists these problems will remain.

"We also need to address the very serious ongoing problem of homelessness. There is no capacity within the Housing Executive stock to deal with this or the ongoing demand to tackle the waiting lists that are particularly acute within nationalists areas where even people with priority A1 status are not being housed." ENDS

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