Homeowners in Northern Ireland threatened with losing their properties to have free government funded legal advice

Justice Minister David Ford has approved £60,000 to pay Housing Rights Service specialists to assist people facing repossession when cases go before the courts. The move follows the announcement last summer by Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland of funding of over £500,000 for the Mortgage Debt Advice Service to assist owners in arrears.

The new money will provide for two specialists to give advice and support in all High Court proceedings in respect of mortgage repossessions where people face losing their homes. The scheme will also cover all eviction proceedings in the County Court. The number of mortgage applications received by the Chancery Division of the High Court last year was 3,588. A total of 1,775 possession orders were made.

David Ford said: "I believe the service provided by Housing Right Service will be hugely important in supporting some of the most vulnerable in our society."

Mr McCausland said: "As the economic downturn tightens its grip, advice for those facing mortgage difficulties has become increasingly sought after and this additional support by the Department of Justice will complement the work of my department and demonstrate the real value of joined up government."

Source: Press Association