ARE WE SITTING ON A HOUSING TIMEBOMB?

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By Una Murphy

HOUSING expert Professor Paddy Gray has warned of a possible “timebomb waiting to explode” in Northern Ireland’s private rented sector.

Banks are currently repossessing homes from buy-to-let landlords making the families who live there homeless. The private rented sector in Northern Ireland has grown rapidly in recent years and how accounts for nearly 17 percent of all households or nearly 130,000 homes.

Many householders faced with landlords going bust will have to apply for homeless status with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, but public housing stock has dwindled in recent years. Most landlords in Northern Ireland’s private rented sector are believed to be part-time or ‘amateur’ landlords operating on a small scale letting one or two homes.

Experts believe that individual investors with large property portfolios in the buy-to-let private housing sector who have no other source of income could be badly hit by a hike in mortgage payments

Professor Gray said: “The question is what will happen to tenants living with the uncertainty of losing their home if the landlord goes bust and banks repossess the home?

“It is unlikely that banks will continue to rent the property but will go for a quick sale to recoup part of their loss selling the property at auction at well below market value.

“The tenant will become homeless but where do they go? It is unlikely they will be able to afford to buy. If awarded homeless status by NIHE they may have to move to an unfamiliar area without the community network they have built up in their existing location”, Professor Gray said.

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