Struggling homeowners urged to 'help themselves'
A JUDGE yesterday urged distressed homeowners who fall behind on their mortgage repayments to "help themselves" and stay in negotiations with their lenders.
Mr Justice Brian McGovern said unemployment was taking its toll on people's hopes for a decent life and home as he ordered the possession of 10 properties.
Judge McGovern adjourned scores of applications until late February owing to increased pressures on the weekly High Court possessions list.
He encouraged homeowners facing possession to stay in touch with their lenders, negotiate at the earliest opportunity and turn up in court when their lenders move against them.
The judge described a number of the cases coming before him as "pretty hopeless", with several loans falling into arrears shortly after mortgage loans were drawn down.
In one case, a separated husband and wife drew down a €338,000 loan from subprime lender Start Mortgages in January 2008. The couple, who were paying a mortgage of €2,600 a month, stopped making payments shortly after they drew down their loan, amassing arrears of almost €60,000.
Unemployment led to the granting of an order for possession against another married couple who have four children. The High Court heard that the husband, who was previously employed as a site foreman, was now out of work.
The father, from Wexford, had offered to pay €400 a month to meet his €83,766 debt, including some €17,000 in arrears.
Describing the man as "another victim of the construction slump", the judge added that the application by Start Mortgages was "another sad case of unemployment taking its toll on people's hopes for a decent life and home".
An order for possession was also granted to Start Mortgages against a couple with four children who took out two loans, one to remortgage their home to facilitate home improvements. The couple, who owe €252,297, could not meet their monthly repayments and had not done so since October 2008.
In another case, a father of three from Clara, Co Offaly, appeared in person and offered the entirety of his forthcoming redundancy package to save his home by offsetting almost €19,000 in mortgage arrears.
The High Court heard that his property had depreciated in value to just €90,000 in circumstances where he owes his lender more than €164,500.
The case was adjourned until April.