Sinead Ryan: Mortgage holders' body and AIB an unlikely marriage but a good start
David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders’ Organisation is an avuncular kind of chap. Mortgage holders reckon he’s on their side.
The banks, on the other hand, regard him as a thorn in their side, an irritating voice pointing out the inconsistencies, hypocrisy and massaging of information inherent in mortgage arrears figures.
So, a tie up would appear inconceivable, yet today one was announced between AIB – the bank that considers one in five defaulters to be deliberately so, and people’s champion, the IMHO.
Poacher turned Gamekeeper?
David assures me not.
From the rueful look on AIBs Brendan O Connor’s face, he may live to regret the association. We can only hope.
Essentially, mortgage holders in trouble (or about to be) of AIB, Haven or EBS whose kitchen drawers are stuffed with unopened envelopes bearing the banks’ logos, fearful of their contents, can now deal instead with David and his staff, assured of independence and a track record of already getting debt deals for customers.
Best of all it’s free, you can get started before Christmas and you don’t have to meet any Bad Santa from AIB.
For those with residual unsecured debt, there’s also a promise to “take it into consideration”. This means that if they lent you money for a car, holiday or credit card they will get stuffed instead of you. Although the bank retains its full veto and isn’t offering any new policy or deal, the chances are the IMHO are better poker players than you, and will relish playing the game of who-blinks-first on your behalf.
There are 8,000-10,000 customers in arrears who haven’t even engaged enough with the bank to complete a Standard Financial Statement – a Central Bank requirement before any discussion can take place. These need to be hoovered up, and that’s where Hall is starting. If you’ve already engaged with AIB, and been told to jump in the Liffey, it’s unlikely he can help you now. This is for the “uncooperative” borrower – the Ostrich.
AIB is stumping up €150,000 to cover the initiative’s cost and IMHO staff will not be paid. Hall told me that his greatest wish is to be able to call Mr O Connor up and tell him he needs more money because the thing has taken off.
I reckon any money flowing out of AIB to anybody willing to help is a good start.