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Beware of getting into debt this Christmas

Published: Wed, 19 Nov 2014
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We know it’s difficult for many households at this time of the year
Money
Housing Executive urges tenants.
We know it’s difficult for many households at this time of the year. It’s easy to overspend with tempting offers and pressures to buy, but you should remember to prioritise paying your rent or mortgage, and utility bills. Having a home is more important than any Christmas present.
“We want to remind all tenants, both in the private rented and public sectors, of the danger of falling into rent arrears. Debt can quickly mount up and you risk losing your home. Last year 75 Housing Executive homes had to be repossessed because of significant debt levels.
“We know more people are finding it difficult to make ends meet. Housing Executive tenants, who are having difficulty paying their rent, shouldn’t ignore the problem. Members of our staff in our local Accounts Offices can provide assistance, confidential help and advice. Simply call us on 03448 920900 and we will do all we can to assist.
“If you are struggling to pay off lots of different debts, you should prioritise the ones which affect your home first. That means your rent is the most important, followed by utility bills so that you can stay warm during the cold weather and cook meals.
Borrowing or getting credit
“If you need to borrow money make sure you know what it’s going to cost and exactly how much and when you will have to pay back so that you make an informed choice.
“Don’t be tempted to take out a high interest loan to buy Christmas presents. These are short-term loans aimed at people who are finding it difficult to make it through to their next payday. But, with already stretched budgets, you could find you can’t pay back what you owe in time and your debt problems can soon spiral of control.
Getting help
The Housing Executive has an established a link with the leading advice charity Advice NI’s Debt Action NI service. This is a free, confidential and independent money and debt advice service which we widely promote to our tenants.
Gemma Willis, Debt Action NI Project Manager said,
“It is extremely important that people seek help as soon as they are experiencing difficulty in paying their rent.  Tenants should be aware that rent is a priority debt as you are at risk of losing your home if you do not keep up with your payments. Debt Action NI can negotiate with the Housing Executive to try and come to an arrangement to repay any arrears.  
“In one case we were able to assist a client who was due to be evicted within a matter of weeks as he had considerable rent arrears. The Housing Executive had taken the client to court and had obtained a possession order. Our adviser was able to maximise the client’s income and negotiate a payment arrangement with the Housing Executive which stopped the eviction from going ahead.
You can contact Debt Action NI on