A Dublin businessman and his wife, who owe more than €1 million in mortgage arrears on their family home, have lost their €2 million Foxrock, Co Dublin property which a judge handed back to Bank of Ireland.
Barrister Tomas Keys told Judge Jacqueline Linnane in the Circuit Civil Court that Adrian Blanc, 36 Brighton Avenue, Foxrock, Co Dublin, and his wife, Lucille Blanc, owed €1,128,000 in arrears alone on a 2008 mortgage they had taken out over 15 years with ICS Building Society.
Mr Keys, who appeared with Emma Morrison of Whitney Moore solicitors for Bank of Ireland, said the Blancs had borrowed €1.7 million from the building society when their home was valued at €2.5 million and used it to pay off an existing loan. ICS loans had been transferred to the bank in 2014 under the Central Bank Act.
Mr Keys told the court that monthly repayments on the mortgage were €12,561 but nothing had been paid off the loan for three years up until November last year. For the past six months the Blancs had been making monthly payments of only €1,000 and arrears were mounting at the rate of €11,560 a month.
He said there was now an outstanding total debt of €1,764,000 and the Blancs had refused to sell or allow their home to be sold to pay off all or part of the debt and had, at every stage, attempted to inhibit the bank. When applying for costs after Judge Linnane had made an order for possession in favour of the bank, Mr Keys said “not one inch has been given” by the Blancs.
Mr Keys said that when the Blancs had asked the bank for an alternative repayment arrangement the bank had discovered that one or both of them were in arrears of €932,000 on a portfolio of several properties which had already been repossessed by financial institutions.
When Mr Keys referred to a €2 million judgment handed down against the Blancs in the High Court, their solicitor James Maher said that decision was currently under appeal. He said he could not understand why the court and counsel for the bank were showing such interest in the financial affairs of Mr Blanc when only the actual default in mortgage repayments should be the focus of the court.
Mr Keys said he was not sure if Mr Maher was aware of the significance of his statement considering that the significant default was not in dispute.
Judge Linnane said the bank’s possession proceedings were issued in September 2016 and since then there had been 12 appearances before either the County Registrar or the Circuit Court. It was quite clear that when the loan was taken out the Blancs had a very prominent firm of solicitors, O’Rourke Reid, advising them as well as a mortgage broker and their accountants.
She said she thoroughly agreed with Mr Maher’s contention that the court’s focus should be on the default of repayments and not on any particular monetary claim not associated with the proceedings.
“This was a re-financing loan to repay a debt with another financial institution and one of the conditions of the mortgage was that it was to clear off that debt,” Judge Linnane said.
Default in repayments
She said it was the default in repayments which entitled the bank to enforce its security by seeking possession of the Foxrock property. The bank wanted to reduce or clear the debt through the sale of the Blancs’ family home and in order to get the best price it required vacant possession.
“It is acknowledged that there has been no payment whatsoever since the 4th of November, 2015. Nothing, but nothing, has been paid off this loan until the recent €1,000 a month payments,” the judge said.
It was quite clear there was undisputed extensive default in the case and quite clear that no alternative repayment agreement could have been entered into. Some of the claims made by Mr Blanc were without merit. The bank’s papers were in order and it was entitled to an order for possession with costs.
Judge Linnane, in the absence of a plea for a stay to allow the Blancs to find alternative accommodation, agreed with Mr Keys that it would in the normal run of events be some time before the Sheriff would be acting on the court order. Only Mr Blanc and his solicitor appeared in court.