The report, commissioned by the Department of Social Development, indicates that the level of borrowers with mortgages in Northern Ireland, who are with low or negative equity, is significantly higher than in the rest of the UK.
The level of negative equity is linked to the high number of home repossessions in Northern Ireland, which do not share the progressive decline which has been witnessed in England and Wales.
Stewart Dickson MLA said: “This report represents just an initial step in attempting to find solutions for those affected. There is still a huge amount of work to be done to ease the difficulty and distress which negative equity causes to home owners.
“In my own constituency, Carrickfergus in particular has been identified in the report as a ‘hotspot’ of home repossession. I am only too aware of the immense financial and emotional hardship which many of my constituents have experienced in recent years as a direct result of low or negative equity.
“Individuals are now informing me that they are consciously deciding not to start a family and that they have had to seek a second job, simply to keep up with mortgage repayments. Indeed, the report shows that Northern Ireland has the highest proportion of ‘mortgage prisoners’ in the UK. This, to me, is unacceptable.
“I hope that this report will be the first step towards a series of positive actions taken by the Department of Social Development to assist those who are in housing distress.
“As a member of the Social Development Committee, I will work to try and find solutions to this most difficult of issues and look forward to the Department coming forward with proposals in the near future.”