Dialogue with lenders urged as 13 homes repossessed


HOMEOWNERS FACING severe mortgage repayment difficulties were yesterday advised to speak to their lender, as repossession rates continued at a record level.

Repossession orders were granted against 13 properties at yesterday’s High Court chancery summonses hearing, the greatest number granted in a single day this year. In a further sign homeowners are continuing to struggle with arrears, 64 repossession cases, including 26 new cases were heard or adjourned at the hearing.

Subprime lender Start mortgages was successful in six of its applications for repossession orders, while IIB was granted three orders. ACCBank succeeded in repossessing 110 acres of farmland which included a residence, after the owners failed to repay a restructuring loan and overdraft.

Six months’ stay was granted on the order as the homeowners, who owed €101,000 on foot of the two loans, resided in the premises.

In one of the successful applications by IIB, counsel for the lender said no mortgage payments had been made in over three years, resulting in arrears of €56,384.23. The defendants took out a €320,000 mortgage for the Co Meath property, but ceased payments on June 1st, 2006.

In the case of a Co Kilkenny home for which a €200,000 remortgage was advanced in 2007, arrears in excess of €24,000 had accumulated. The court heard the defendant, a nurse, had taken out the loan for the purpose of discharging college debts and building an extension for her daughter and granddaughter to reside in.

The court was also told the defendant had put the house on the market and had moved out upon hearing of the court proceedings. Her two sons were residing there but not contributing rent.

Granting five months’ stay on the order, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne said “this is a classic case of someone who has buried their head in the sand”.

A repossession order was also granted on a Co Dublin property after the defendants accrued arrears of €39,304 on the original loan of €98,000. As a result, the amount owed exceeded the original borrowings. Counsel for the lender told the court no payments had been received since April 2008, and the defendants had not engaged in any communication.

While homeowners appeared in court in a number of cases, Ms Justice Dunne expressed frustration at the lack of information in some cases, due to mortgage holders not coming to court.

Granting an order for a family home on which mortgage arrears in excess of €19,000 had accrued, Ms Justice Dunne said “substantial arrears are outstanding, there are no proposals before the court, and the defendants aren’t here today. It seems there is no other option but to make an order.”

In that case, the mortgage holders were advanced €281,000 on June 28th, 2005, to be repaid over 34 years. However, the total balance outstanding has surpassed the original loan due to continuous default on the €1,000 monthly repayments. Stay of four months was granted on the order.

Lenders were given immediate possession of two abandoned properties amid fears they would be at risk of vandalism.

In one case, Start mortgages was granted possession of a Co Galway property which had been vacant since October 2008. The court was told that the property had been cleared out and was known among locals to be deserted.

A loan of €207,000 was advanced to the homeowners in April 2007, but no mortgage repayments had been received since August 2008, with €218,000 currently owed. Granting the order with no stay, Ms Justice Dunne was also told that “it is believed the defendants have emigrated”.