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Thursday 29 June 2017

Couple facing eviction from their home to challenge law

Test case may affect hundreds of court repossession orders

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

A MARRIED couple who face eviction from their home have asked the High Court for permission to challenge the law that allows county registrars to grant bank possessions.

The couple, who have three children and claim they have nowhere to live when a postponement on the possession order granted to the Educational Building Society runs out later this month, will find out today whether the High Court will allow their case against the County Registrar for Dublin and the State to proceed.

Distressed

They bought their home for €670,000 in 2004 but as a result of the husband becoming unemployed, they got into mortgage arrears of over €37,000.

The action is the first in a series of cases expected to be taken on behalf of distressed homeowners by New Beginning, a group of solicitors and barristers who have vowed to represent, on a non-fee basis, families experiencing mortgage difficulties and eviction who can not afford legal representation.

The test case could affect hundreds of possessions obtained after the introduction of new Circuit Court rules, which came into effect last year, allowing County Registrars to grant possession orders if a homeowner doesn't turn up in court or defend the threatened possession.

Previously, all possession orders had to be granted by a judge.

Separate to the constitutional challenge, a former bank worker with a chronically ill wife told High Court Judge Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne that he had made 1,732 job applications in a bid to find work to save his home from repossession.

Judge Dunne gave the Co Kildare man four weeks to come up with a plan, together with ACC bank -- his former employer -- to fund the repayments on a €300,000 loan.

The man explained that he would do everything possible to avoid having his home repossessed. He and his wife had lived there for 14 years, and he had a son doing his Leaving Cert this year and another preparing to make his Holy Communion.

"We as a family understand the position the bank is in. All I am asking is that we genuinely and honestly believe that in the next three months our personal situations will change," said the man whose wife also previously worked for ACC.

His case was heard among 75 listed yesterday.

Judge Dunne granted 13 possession orders, many granted to banks in circumstances where the mortgage holder had fled the property or had emigrated to find work and voluntarily surrendered their properties.

The wife of a haulier told reporters of the "sleepless nights and constant pressure" of trying to keep their heads above water.

Borrowed

The haulier, who had inherited a 17-acre field in Duleek, Co Meath, from his father, lost his bid to have the land -- once valued at up to €6m -- saved from possession.

The man had managed to get the land rezoned for commercial use, and borrowed against the land to expand his business.

At its peak, he was running up to 15 lorries across the continent, mostly exporting goods such as computers.

Speaking outside the court, he said the land had once been valued at €4m to €6m, but said it was unlikely to be worth anything like that amount now.

"The way it has turned out for us is the way it has for a large percentage of people," his wife said outside of court.

"But we are the ones who have to deal with these problems."

Irish Independent

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