Dáil told of surge in home repossession cases before courts

Increase in eviction cases ‘belies rhetoric’ that repossession of family home a last resort

Home repossession cases have increased so dramatically that additional court sittings are being scheduled to deal with them, Fianna Fáil finance spokesman  Michael McGrath has said. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Home repossession cases have increased so dramatically that additional court sittings are being scheduled to deal with them, Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath has said. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

 

Home repossession cases have increased so dramatically that additional court sittings are being scheduled to deal with them, the Dáil has heard.

The number of cases increased seven-fold in the last 18 months, according to Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath.

The increase in eviction cases belied Government rhetoric that repossession of the family home was the last resort and would only happen “in a tiny number of cases”, he told the Dáil.

Mr McGrath said the number of Civil Ejectment Bills or repossession cases coming before Cork Circuit Court had increased dramatically since the beginning of last year.

He said that in the first six months of 2013 there were 44 repossession bills, which rose to 246 in the second half of the year and in the first six months of this year that had grown to 335 civil ejectment bills.

Mr McGrath also sharply criticised the mortgage rates Irish banks are charging new house buyers as “extortionate” and said Irish borrowers are paying about €4,000 more a year in interest on their mortgages than a typical borrower in the euro zone, even though it is costing the banks the same as in other jurisdictions.

He was speaking during a private member’s debate on mortgage arrears introduced by the technical group of Independent TDs.

The Cork South-Central TD said the average rate being charged in the euro zone for somebody taking out a new mortgage is 2.56 per cent but in Ireland it was close to 5 per cent.

“If you go on to the national consumer agency website itsyourmoney.ie that you’re looking for a loan of €200,000 to buy a house of €250,000 all the rates being offered by the banks come up at close to 4.5 per cent.” That meant the Irish borrower was paying about €4,000 more a year in interest than other euro zone mortgage holders, he said.

“So when we hear that our banking system is fixed that it’s repaired, that it’s meeting the needs of the economy, I do not agree because those rates are extortionate in a European context,” Mr McGrath added.

The cost of funds for Irish banks today is about 1 per cent, he said. “Where is the justification in charging 4.5 per cent on a variable rate mortgage when the cost of funds is 1 per cent?”

Mr McGrath was speaking in advance of tomorrow’s Oireachtas finance committee hearings with the banks today, with Bank of Ireland first up.