Help pledge for stricken homeowners

RESIDENTS facing the prospect of being evicted are being urged to face up to their problems and take advantage of help on offer in the town.

More than 300 families in Hartlepool face losing their homes as the town has been highlighted as a repossession hot spot.

As the Mail reported yesterday, The 140 mortgage possession orders and 175 landlord possession orders made in the last 12 months means Hartlepool is one of the worst areas nationwide.

Local authority housing specialists today encouraged homeowners to seek help and reassured residents that all is not lost in the battle against debt.

Alistair Simpson, Hartlepool Borough Council’s tenancy relations officer, said there are options for those facing both mortgage and landlord possession orders, but told residents the sooner they ask for help and support, the better.

He added: “People shouldn’t bury their heads in the sand. We offer help and there are a number of other services in the town. For those residents facing mortgage possession orders the worst thing to do is ignore any debt.

“If people receive a letter saying they are behind with their payments, they should contact the lender.

“First people should look at cutting back with their spending or see if there are any better deals they can get with their mortgage.

“You can also see if it is possible to get a re-mortgage with a different lender. The main thing for us is looking at prevention and stopping people finding themselves in such a difficult situation.

Homeowners who are facing landlord possession orders are also urged to get in touch with their landlord at the first possible opportunity.

Mr Simpson said residents should check all benefit entitlements and discuss with landlords as to whether they are aware of any benefits.

The council offers a service where people can get advice over the phone or book a one-to-one appointment. Even if residents face eviction, it is not too late to seek help.

Under the homeless legislation it may be the council’s duty to re-house the resident.

If it is not, the council still offer advice and can provide temporary accommodation.

Stockton Borough Council, which covers Billingham and Wolviston, is also offering a free service. For more information call the housing options team on (01642) 528389.

Hartlepool residents can visit Park Towers, in Park Road, Hartlepool, or call (01429) 284038.