Threatening bank letters no solution on mortgages - Gilmore

Kelleher highlights plight of those with long-term mortgage arrears

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore  said sustainable solutions would have to be found for distressed mortgage-holders on a case-by-case basis. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said sustainable solutions would have to be found for distressed mortgage-holders on a case-by-case basis. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Thu, Nov 28, 2013, 13:52

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has condemned the sending of threatening letters by banks to those with long-term mortgage arrears.

“The solution for anybody who is in mortgage distress is not to get a threatening letter...of course not,’’ he said. “The solution is engagement between the bank and the borrower.’’

Mr Gilmore said he acknowledged there was a problem relating to people who had mortgage arrears for a long time. “Obviously, it follows that the longer it takes to resolve those arrears, the more they are going into arrears,’’ he added.

He said sustainable solutions would have to be found for those people on a case-by-case basis.

He said there continued to be a serious problem of mortgage arrears in the country, and the Government’s plan to tackle it was based on the important premise of keeping a roof over people’s heads.

Mr Gilmore was replying in the Dáil today to Billy Kelleher (FF), who said there were close on 32,000 homeowners who were now 720 days or more with mortgage arrears. “When you talk about commitments to reduce taxes for the coping classes in the years ahead, we are talking about a cohort of people who are now under huge stress and pressure, Tánaiste - and there does not seem to be anything being done for them,’’ he added.

There were families, said Mr Kelleher, who were “tearing their hair out of their heads’’ because there were no proper offers of debt-restructuring being made to them.

Long-term mortgage arrears represented a massive problem that had to be addressed and, to date, the Government, Central Bank and the banks themselves were failing to address the issue.

“They are now including threatening letters as a solution to mortgage arrears of 720 days and over,’’ he added.

He repeated Fianna Fáil’s demand for an independent oversight of the process.