Tenants of the Housing Executive in Ballymena have been urged to keep a close eye on their spending over the Christmas period.
And they have urged their customers to get their priorities right in a hard hitting advisory statement on debt and rent arrears.
A spokesman said: “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. Last year 75 Housing Executive homes had to be repossessed because of significant debt levels.”
Housing Executive tenants who are having difficulty paying their rent should contact staff in the local Accounts Offices for assistance, confidential help and advice.
“Simply call us on 03448 920900 and we will do all we can to assist,” the spokesman added. “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.
The Housing Executive has an established a link with the leading advice charity Advice NI’s Debt Action NI service.
Gemma Willis, Project Manager said: “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. Contact Debt Action NI on Freephone 0800 9174607, text ‘Action’ to 81025 or visit www.debtaction-ni.net