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Can bank chase me now over house repossessed 12 years ago?

Q&A: You need to be careful if debt remains outstanding on that mortgage, especially if the bank has a judgment order against you

I had a house repossessed about 12 years ago. I have had no contact from the bank for about eight years regarding debt recovery. I’m self-employed now and in a position to buy a site. I would like to know whether the bank could take it. I cannot seem to get a call back from solicitors.

Mr E.G.

When it comes to debt, it’s never advisable to read too much into silence — although I wouldn’t be overly impressed with your solicitors refusing to get back to you.

If your house was repossessed 12 years ago, you must have been among the first to be taken which doesn’t bode particularly well.


It’s unclear whether this was a voluntary surrender by you or one that was mandated by the courts. If it was voluntary, I would have thought it would have been as part of a settlement that included the write-off of any residual mortgage debt after the bank sold on your former home. As AIB has confirmed recently, it has been standard practice for banks to make pragmatic settlements for just a fraction of the debt owing when they are confident that there are simply no other assets available to meet the debt due.

If you were among the first to be repossessed and the bank has not pursued you over the past eight years, it must have been pretty certain there was nothing there to chase you for.

However, the fact that you are concerned about them chasing you at all at this stage would suggest it was not a voluntary surrender of your property.

The banks have found it very difficult to persuade courts to grant repossession orders for family homes and there was, I gather, a particular issue related to mortgages from before 2009 unless the court action also dated that far back. But clearly some properties have been taken by the banks.

Where that happens, and in the absence of any agreement that the repossession is in full and final settlement of the debt, it is open to the bank to pursue what is called “shortfall debt” — ie, the shortfall between what you owed and what they were able to get selling your home.

As far as I can see, the bank would coincidentally have up to 12 years to enforce a judgment order against you, from the date that it got judgment against you in court for the sum owing. Mind you, you would have had to be notified of court proceedings. You say you have not heard from them for eight years but that suggests there was certainly some contact in the previous four years.

And there is also the issue of what, if anything, happened at that time that caused the lender to stop contacting you.

Only you can fill in the blanks here.

If you don’t know whether there is a judgment against you, you can check with the Courts Service or with your solicitor —who certainly should not be ignoring calls from you unless they are no longer prepared to act for you. But, again, they should have told you if that was the case.

The other thing you can do is check your credit history to see if there is a debt against your name. If there is, it will make it very difficult for you to get credit as all lenders consult this register before extending lending of any sort, even a credit card.

Everyone is entitled to check their entry and you can do so by filling out a form online here. Apart from the obvious personal details, you will need several items to identify you. These include photo ID with signature, such as your passport or a driving licence; proof of your current address dated within the last six months, such as a utility bill, and proof of your personal public service (PPS) number. That can be found on any communications with Revenue, your drug payment scheme card or medical card if you have one, or a wage slip.

Realistically, if you have not agreed a formal settlement with the bank — as part of a court case or otherwise — I think you have to assume that the bank could still come after a site if you were to buy it now. At the least, you will need to wait out the 12-year window in which they can pursue you via an enforcement (or execution) order, which is what they would use to come after your newly acquired site.

Bear in mind that, although enforcement orders care only valid for a year from the date issued by the court, they can be renewed.

If there has been no judgment registered against you, I would suggest you consult a solicitor (who does take your calls) to see whether it is possible for the bank to pursue such a judgment at this remove before investing in any new asset that could be taken by them.

  • Please send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street Dublin 2, or by email to This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice