Few in court to argue on repossessions
Published 12/05/2015 | 02:30
With 120 repossession orders up before the court, the number of anxious faces in the benches were surprisingly few and far between.
In Courtroom One of Bray Court, Wicklow County Registrar Mary Delahanty was briskly running through her list.
Outside in the corridor, a man was outlining in stark terms how getting on the property ladder in Ireland has ruined any chance of security he'd ever hoped for.
"I came here to Ireland to start a new life. But I'm going to be in debt for the rest of my life," he said.
But he was one of the few who had turned up in person to try to put his case forward.
In fact, just 12 people facing the devastating loss of their home had lodged a defence. It is a growing and worrying trend, according to Personal Insolvency Practitioner, Eric Hendy.
In the court yesterday to observe the proceedings, Mr Hendy said he believed people had grown disillusioned by the process.
"People are afraid. They've given up and don't want to engage with the banks any more because they're getting nowhere," he said.
Even more alarming, he added, is that they seem to be believe that if they hand back the keys to a property, that it will be the end of it.
"But unless they have a formal agreement, the unsecured debt will follow them," warned Mr Hendy.
One man told the Irish Independent that he bought a house in Greystones, Co Wicklow, in 1999 as a family home.
His ex-partner and his 10-year-old daughter remained there after the relationship broke up.
He got into financial difficulties after losing his job but was still "chipping away" at the repayments to Bank of Ireland.
Having set up his own business in the tech sector, the bank has told him that if he makes full payments over the next six months, they will "look at him more favourably".
"The fact that it's the family home changes everything," he said.
Meanwhile a woman from Co Wicklow was representing her son yesterday.
She was jubilant after getting a six-month adjournment on his repossession order.
In 2003, she and her husband had put up €65,000 to help their son on the property ladder.
"He bought a four-bed house with a big garden," she said.
He then re-mortgaged the property and after having a baby with his partner, moved out of the house and rented it out to tenants.
But they had proved unreliable, paying "intermittent" rent for three years, she claimed.
However, he struck up a deal with the bank and all was satisfactory for a while, with new tenants in the property.
Then he received a court summons in the post, which the bank said was "a mistake".
With an accountancy background, she began to look into the fine print of her son's mortgage and sought all of his documentation from the bank.
There, she found that he had been mis-sold the controversial Payment Protection Insurance.
She said that the bank had included this in calculating his arrears - with interest on top.
"He's paid €26,000 in PPI. They actually owe him money," she said.
The registrar agreed that this issue needed to be cleared up.
So turning up in court is good. Having your mother to represent you is even better.