Possession orders down a third in first six months of 2012
SOME 265 orders for possession were granted by the courts in the first six months of the year, new figures show.
The numbers are down by almost 32 per cent on the same time last year, when 390 orders were granted.
Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB had the highest number of orders in the Circuit Court while subprime lender Start Mortgages Ltd continued to dominate at the High Court.
An order for possession is granted when a borrower fails to repay a mortgage under the terms of an agreement with a lender.
Figures released by the Courts Service show 124 orders to repossess homes and other property were granted at the High Court from January to the end of June 2012. This was down from 187 over the same period in 2011.
And at the Circuit Court, there were 141 such orders over the first six months of this year, compared to 203 for the same period last year.
The drop in orders does not indicate a reduction in the number of borrowers falling behind with their mortgages, which has risen every year since 2008.
But it can be largely attributed to a judgment delivered by Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne in July last year, which uncovered a flaw in legislation governing property repossessions.
The judge found a failure to save aspects of old legislation when the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 was introduced meant the only registered properties that lenders could repossess for failure to pay mortgages were those for which they had demanded full repayment before December 1st, 2009.
At High Court level, approximately one-third of the orders granted were to Start Mortgages Ltd with the remainder divided between more than a dozen lenders including GE Capital Woodchester Homeloans, Stepstone Mortgages, AIB, ACC Bank, Ulster Bank and Bank of Ireland.
But while subprime lenders dominated High Court actions, mainstream lenders made more use of the Circuit Courts.
Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB had 15 orders each at Circuit Court level, while Ulster Bank and Bank of Scotland Ireland had 14 each. The Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Ltd, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, was granted nine orders and Irish Nationwide Building Society was granted eight.
The EBS had six orders granted and the remainder went to lenders including AIB, Nua Mortgages, KBC Bank, Springboard Mortgages Ltd and other credit institutions.
Figures complied over the same period by The Irish Times show stays of execution on orders granted at the Chancery Summonses session of the High Court, which deals with the bulk of such orders at the higher level, averaged 23 weeks.
The length of the stay was dependent on the circumstances of the borrowers involved; owner-occupiers were usually given a stay of six months.