I was contacted by a constituent who was in the process of buying an apartment that had originally been an NIHE property which was sold to the then tenant under the Right to Buy legislation.

Whilst there was no problem with the proposed transaction my constituent was informed by their solicitor that the property only had a 125 year leasehold and around 30 years of this had expired. This would impact upon her should she wish to sell the property as it is very difficult to obtain a mortgage on leasehold properties with less than 85-90 years left on the property.”

Speaking today Alex Easton MLA said:

“I have discovered that there are more than 308 such properties across North Down. Having raised the matter with the NIHE they have informed me that “there is currently no statutory provision” to help deal with this problem.

If this is not resolved it will prove almost impossible for these properties to be sold in the very near future as it will only be ‘cash buyers’ who will be able to afford to buy them. Even that buyer would have to hope that at some point in the future another ‘cash buyer’ is prepared to buy as Banks / Building Societies will not lend money for these types of properties. This will seriously disadvantage those working people and families who aspire to own their own homes but do not have the capital to purchase outright.

I have written to the Chief Executive of NIHE to see if they are fully aware of the potential scale of the problem and hope to find out soon what the Housing executive plan to do about resolving the issue.

Even at an estimated average price of £65,000 per property and more than 308 properties affected, this means there is a £20 million property problem which must be urgently resolved across North Down by the Housing Executive.”