135,000 mortgages now in arrears
More than 135,000 mortgages are behind in repayments, official figures have revealed.
The latest Central Bank report on the debt crisis shows almost 11.3% of mortgages were three months behind in repayments at the end of September.
Figures showed that 86,146 mortgage accounts were in arrears of more than 90 days. A further breakdown of the state of the residential property market revealed that 49,482 accounts were classed as being up to three months behind in repayments.
Some 18,745 mortgage accounts were classed as being between 90 and 180 days in arrears, the Central Bank said. The number of restructured mortgages was 81,683 at the end of September.
In its latest report on the housing crisis, the Central Bank said the pace of increase in arrears cases of more than 90 days has slowed further. Other figures from the bank showed that 26,770, 17.9%, of accounts in the buy-to-let sector were in arrears of more than 90 days at the end of September.
Noeline Blackwell, director general of the Free Legal Advice Centres (Flac), said arrears levels have increased over the 13 reports. "The arrears crisis continues to be serious but is not unexpected. No durable, long-term solutions have been put in place. Lenders continue to adopt a sticking-plaster approach to the problem," she said. Flac also pointed to the 19,541 households in arrears for two years or more and on average owe arrears of more than 40,000 euro.
The report was published as Justice Minister Alan Shatter rejected suggestions that repossession levels would surge as the Government is committed to reforming laws in the area amid demands from the bailout Troika. A loophole which bars banks from repossessing homes in some circumstances is to be closed.
David Hall and economist Dr Constantin Gurdgiev, of the Irish Mortgage Holders Association, said the crisis was out of control. "A generation of Irish people are now locked into an endless battle of attrition with the banks," they said. "It must be internationally unprecedented for a Taoiseach, Tanaiste, the Governor of the Central Bank and head of banking regulation all to state their dissatisfaction with how banks are dealing with mortgage holders, while at the same time not acting to deliver real policy solutions and changes. This Government is now fully paralysed by the crisis. Leadership is now required to ensure we do not lose a generation to over-indebtedness."
In terms of repossessions, at the beginning of September banks held 944 repossessed homes on their books. The report showed that 79 court orders were granted to allow houses to be repossessed in the third quarter. It also said that 154 properties were repossessed by lenders in the three months to the end of September - 47 following a court order and 107 voluntarily surrendered or abandoned.
Michael McGrath, Fianna Fail finance spokesman, said the figures showed a property tax should not be introduced now. "This property tax will push many ordinary families over the edge and should be abandoned before it is too late," he said.