Judge has ‘great sympathy’ for man set to lose his Co Louth home

Court finds Colin Brennan made no defence to possession order obtained by KBC Ireland

A bank is entitled to an order for possession of a man’s home in Co Louth, the High Court has ruled.  File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

A bank is entitled to an order for possession of a man’s home in Co Louth, the High Court has ruled. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

 

A bank is entitled to an order for possession of a man’s home in Co Louth, the High Court has ruled.

Mr Justice Michael McGrath said the court had “great sympathy” for Colin Brennan but he had made out no defence to the possession order obtained by KBC Bank Ireland.

The judge accepted the consequences of failure to repay were clearly set out in a 2008 mortgage agreement and said the fact that Mr Brennan fell into arrears was not due to any impropriety by the bank.

The principal cause of Mr Brennan’s difficulty was the economic downturn, which caused his income to be reduced, illness and a consequent inability to make repayments in line with the mortgage, he said.

Mr Justice McGrath also found that the bank had complied with the Code of Conduct of Mortgage Arrears and the Circuit Court had jurisdiction to make a possession order in July 2018 over Mr Brennan’s home at Carrick Road, Dundalk.

The judge thanked Mr Brennan, who represented himself, for his courtesy in how he defended the case before adjourning the matter to next month for final orders, including on any application for a stay on the possession order.

Mr Brennan obtained a 35-year mortgage loan of €340,000 in 2008 from IIB Homeloans, later KBC Mortgage Bank, whose banking business was in 2009 transferred to KBC Bank Ireland.

KBC issued a civil bill for possession in July 2014 when it said the sum owing was €349,081, including arrears of some €31,833.

Sole liability

In his appeal, Mr Brennan said, through a broker, he bought the property in 2006 with his then fianceé. After they split up in 2008, he assumed sole liability for the mortgage.

He said the interest rate increased from 3.2 per cent to 5.4 per cent and was based on his income comprising a €45,000 annual salary, €23,000 in overtime and a €4,000 bonus.

After his income reduced from 2011 he sought, through his broker, to re-schedule payments and to put another property of his in Limerick towards the debt. He subsequently missed work because of stress and claimed KBC ignored requests from him and his agent.

He returned to work in early 2013 and said he confirmed to the bank that he would pay €700 per month, which he said was previously agreed with an official of the bank.

Difficulties

He then experienced further health issues and other difficulties and ceased paying €700 per month in March 2015. He was getting illness support of €168 per week at that point.

Mr Brennan’s complaints included that the interest rate was too high and KBC was also seeking to recover sums due in respect of the Limerick property, sold by a bank-appointed receiver in 2016.

He said he believed there was an agreement that he would “walk away” from the Limerick property and the mortgage on the Dundalk property would be restructured. KBC said it made every reasonable effort to engage with Mr Brennan and it also engaged with the Irish Mortgage Holders Association after it communicated on his behalf.

The bank denied any agreement for Mr Brennan to “walk away” from the Limerick property and said arrears on the Dundalk property had increased to some €92,868, which meant the total sum due last June was some €367,994.