Autumn avalanche of thousands of home repossession cases is on the way
A devastating new wave of family home repossession cases is about to hit the courts, with an estimated 7,000 cases listed in the next six weeks, the Sunday Independent has learned.
As the courts resume after the summer recess, shocking new figures reveal that 2,000 families - largely from rural areas - face repossession court proceedings by the end of the month.
A staggering 180 cases are listed in Limerick and 166 in Ennis, Co Clare. A total of 165 cases are due in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, and almost 140 in Naas, Co Kildare.
In Athlone, 20 individual cases will be mentioned
Courts in Dublin, Galway and Cork are not sitting this month.
Concerns are deepening over a shortfall in court resources to administer the latest barrage of bankruptcy applications.
Although lists for October have not yet been published, New Beginning - a group of lawyers providing legal representation to people facing repossession - estimates that up to 7,000 family home repossession cases will be listed over the two-month period.
Founder Ross Maguire said county registrar lists are bulging at the seams.
"The level of debt is so high and income so impaired that repossession is an inevitable outcome," he said.
"Courts are being forced to create specialised repossession lists as cases constitute about 90pc of all circuit court civil cases."
The majority of homeowners currently facing eviction are unemployed or low- income earners.
Although New Beginning is attending some hearings, the independent service has stepped back, allowing the free Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) to roll out a new nationwide courthouse advice scheme to fight evictions.
David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders' Organisation (IMHO) said he expects a "massive avalanche" of repossession cases this autumn.
"It was inevitable. Families have been abandoned politically and by the Central Bank for the last seven years and now we're dealing with a cohort of people in deep arrears, deep trouble, under immense pressure and facing homelessness," he said.
"We have 220,000 houses that are empty tonight, yet we've failed to structure an insolvency system, a mortgage-to-rent scheme and a programme to assist people in mortgage debt."