Cheap Ballykelly homes fuelling debt problems
AT least one person a week in Limavady is being forced to hand over the keys to their home because of debt – a situation caused in part by the influx of cheap housing in Ballykelly.
The level of debt in Limavady is among the highest anywhere in Northern Ireland and appears to be rising steadily, according to someone who works to help those burdened by excessive debt.
Trudie Hylands works out of the LCDI premises at the old Roe Valley Hospital for Advice NI to help those struggling to pay off their debts by giving advice on what the options are for managing and overcoming debt issues.
She told the Sentinel that when she first started working in debt advice, she had to wait three years to come across a ‘voluntary surrender’, where people volunteer to hand over the keys to their home to the bank because they cannot afford to keep up mortgage payments, but she said that she now deals with at least one a week.
She believes at least some of that must be put down to the influx onto the housing market of so many cheap homes in Ballykelly when the former army homes at Shackleton crescent were sold off two years ago: “I think one of the reasons is partly to do with all the houses in Ballykelly being so much cheaper than the town. This had a depressing effect on the housing market and people could not sell their houses. It depressed the rental market as well, with people not being able to pay their mortgage with the amount of rent they were getting in. A lot of people who maybe would have rented could buy a house in Ballykelly for less than the cost of renting in Limavady. A lot of people had bought to rent and the rent they were able to charge wasn’t close to being enough to pay off the mortgage.”
In 2009, the Sentinel ran a story which stated that the level of debt in Limavady was “spiralling out of control” but according to Trudy the situation has become even worse since that time.
She said: “A figure for the total debt in Limavady is around five million, but that might be misleading because it is over the last three years. I am probably seeing around £100,000 per week.
“The average amount of debt for someone coming to see me would probably be in the region of about £20,000, but I have a couple of people with millions owed – right down to a couple of hundred pounds. To some people that can be a terrible worry. I suppose it doesn’t matter how much it is if you haven’t got it, it might as well be a million.
“Limavady is one of the most indebted places in Northern Ireland. In a recent survey it came out in at least the top three places for overall levels of debt. A lot of that can be put down to the obvious problems we have had, as everyone knows, with the closure of Seagate and Huco and everything else.
“It definitely has been getting worse over the last few years. There has been a big increase in the number of people coming in to see us. There is around one a week going through a voluntary surrender. When I first started I had to wait three years to come across one of those, where people voluntarily give up the keys to their house.
“Maybe people find that terrifying and sometimes they just walk away and don’t do it properly so there are probably a lot more than the amount coming in to see us. It is important that people do do it properly and anyone who is worried should call in and see us.
“I am seeing a lot more debt around businesses- sole-traders with personal debts from the business. There are a lot of people with rental arrears as well.
“I always used to see people at least within a few days, but that is becoming more and more difficult. I still make the effort to at least go and speak to someone if they come for advice, because I would hate to think that someone with that kind of pressure wouldn’t come back because they were kept waiting.
“It is such a big step for people.. They sometimes think I am going to be asking them all these questions about how they managed to get themselves into so much debt, and behaving like their parents or something. That is not the case at all. We are looking for a way out, we are not here to judge anybody.”
She added: “My main aim is to make sure they walk out of the door less worried about it than when they walked in.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Londonderry
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: South