Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

My Battle Could Help Thousands Keep Their Homes; LEGAL MOVE BRINGS HOPE FOR VICTIMS OF ALLEGED PROPERTY SCAM

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

My Battle Could Help Thousands Keep Their Homes; LEGAL MOVE BRINGS HOPE FOR VICTIMS OF ALLEGED PROPERTY SCAM

Article excerpt

Byline: SOPHIE DOUGHTY

HUNDREDS of families facing eviction after becoming caught in an alleged property scam have been given a glimmer of hope.

Tenants facing eviction after selling their homes to North East Property Buyers, the company at the centre of a major fraud investigation, could now get their interests heard in court.

Determined grandfather Eric Duffield now has an unprecedented courtroom fight on his hands, after a judge took the unusual step of allowing him, as a tenant, to be involved in legal proceedings about the Buyers in 2006, after an accident at work forced him to giveup his job.

But he and thousands of other tenants are now facing eviction after it was revealed landlords defaulted on mortgages secured on up to 2,000 properties.

Yet, after turning-up at a repossession hearing yesterday, Eric was told he can apply to take on the mortgage himself and could keep his home.The couple have been told they can be involved in legal proceedings, which means that their case for staying in the home and taking over the mortgage will be heard in court.

Usually in buy-to-let repossession cases, the tenants needs are not considered and it is only the landlords and mortgage lenders that have their day in court.

Eric said today he was going to fight for his home.

"They have told me that I can be part of the proceedings now so I have got 14 days to put forward my defence," he explained.

"I can't get legal aid so it is costing me an arm and a leg, but I'm going to fight it.

"My proposal is that I take over the mortgage payments and keep my home." Eric is pleased that he will get his day in court, although he had hoped to have some answers about the future of his home, after attending yesterday's court hearing.

"I was up a 3.30am yesterday, I couldn't sleep, I was just pacing up and down," he added. …

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