Wednesday 18 October 2017

Pledge to ease 'mortgage distress'

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore says the Government's priorities are tackling mortgage arrears and creating jobs
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore says the Government's priorities are tackling mortgage arrears and creating jobs

The Government has admitted it must do more to help householders struggling to pay their mortgage and at risk of repossession.

Marking the two-year anniversary of the Fine Gael-Labour coalition, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said tackling mortgage arrears and creating more jobs would be priorities during the remainder of its five-year term.

"Mortgage distress and jobs - they are the things that we have to do more to achieve success for our people," Mr Gilmore said.

He insisted the Government was working closely with banks to encourage them to find sustainable solutions for hard-pressed customers and he added that personal insolvency legislation introduced last year would help protect them.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted repossessing homes would be a last resort for banks, but he said the Government hoped to issue a strategy next week in relation to closing a legal loophole that prevented banks from seizing properties.

He said a "lacuna in the law" known as the Dunne ruling had to be dealt with from a legislative point of view.

"I hope next week we can issue a strategy that will deal with this and reflect the lacuna that has been in the law, which banks have been saying is important to them in doing their business," Mr Kenny said.

The loophole followed a 2011 High Court ruling from Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne, who found that a failure to change some old laws before the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 meant lenders could only repossess properties where borrowers had defaulted if they demanded full repayment before December 2009.

Government plans to close the loophole have sparked fears of a new wave of repossessions, but Mr Kenny insisted the coalition did not want to see people losing their homes. "What is important is we put in a process that is transparent and that is patently fair for people," he added.

Recent figures from the Central Bank revealed that more than one in 10 mortgage holders were in arrears of three months.

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