Saturday 3 December 2016

Repossessions up 80pc as 1,500 made homeless

Ryan Nugent

Published 22/02/2016 | 02:30

Warning: Pat Doyle, CEO of the Peter McVerry Trust Photo: Steve Humphreys
Warning: Pat Doyle, CEO of the Peter McVerry Trust Photo: Steve Humphreys

Home repossessions rose by a massive 80pc in 2015 - with an extra 1,500 people declaring themselves homeless across the country, according to the Peter McVerry Trust.

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Some 758 repossession orders were granted by the Irish court service for the first nine months of 2015. And there was a total of 1,088 repossessions occurring over the same period.

Other types of repossessions recorded included buy-to-lets, as well as 'unknown' properties.

Cork had the highest number of 'primary' home repossessions by a distance, with 112 compared to 86 in Dublin and 56 in Laois.

Peter McVerry Trust CEO, Pat Doyle, said that victims of these repossessions are set to become the latest group of people to be homeless.

"Mortgage arrears is an issue that has been regularly highlighted," said Mr Doyle.

"The signs are there to suggest that repossessions by financial institutions are leading to increasing numbers of sitting tenants being evicted into homelessness.

"The repossessed homes and rental units are then left empty until such time as the financial institutions see fit to make use of them.

"This practice goes unchallenged, despite the most acute housing shortage on record and ever increasing homelessness."

David Hall, of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation, told the Irish Independent that the eviction process is currently having a "tortuous" effect on many families.

"There are 17,000 people in the courts who are at risk of losing their homes," Mr Hall said.

"There's a slow, sluggish process through the courts and a significant delay in a lot of cases. Many are saying that's down to a low number of repossessions.

"We have had a low number of repossessions, but the banks are not taking these court cases for the craic. Each of those are a tortuous and stressful experience for the family," he added.

The McVerry Trust states that only four counties - Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick - have more than 100 people declared as homeless.

Therefore, it insists that 100 housing units, or fewer in the remaining 22 counties, would solve the homeless crisis in those areas.

Mr Doyle said that there is no chance of long-term homelessness being eliminated in 2016, with yesterday being three years to the day since the homelessness policy statement.

While there has been an increase in funding for homeless services, he said it is only going into emergency accommodation.

"The overall homeless figure continues to rise despite a record number of people leaving homelessness in 2015.

"In fact, even though an estimated 2,000 people left homelessness last year, there were still 5,400 people homeless at the year end - a net increase of 1,500 people," Mr Doyle said.

"This points to a huge number of people becoming homeless, which is fundamentally undermining efforts to end long-term homelessness and the need to sleep rough.

"The majority of those new homeless presentations continue to come from people being forced to exit the private rental market."

Irish Independent

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