Northern Ireland mortgage debt rise 'grave concern'

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image captionDebt Action NI estimates there has been an increase of 24% since 2013 of mortgage shortfall debt.

A charity has expressed concern over what it says is the rapidly rising level of mortgage shortfall debt across Northern Ireland.

Mortgage shortfall debt applies to anyone who has been left with a deficit in their mortgage after their home has been sold or repossessed.

Debt Action NI estimates there has been an increase of 24% in the debt since 2013.

It said the total has risen to £44m across Northern Ireland.

The average debt per client is £100,000, the charity, which is part of Advice NI, added.

It said the situation could get much worse if interest rates were to increase.

On a recent poll on its website, 68% of those who took the survey said that they would not be able to maintain their mortgage payments if there was any rise in interest rates.

More than 20% of those surveyed also said that their property was currently in negative equity.

In 2013, Northern Ireland had the highest level in the UK of negative equity with 41% of homeowners living with negative equity.

"Advice NI is deeply concerned at the rising level of mortgage shortfall debt," the charity's Fiona Magee said.

"This difficult situation is made all the worse by the numbers of people highlighting how much difficulty they would find themselves in if interest rates were to rise.

"This is a ticking economic and social time bomb which we all need to be aware of."

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