Sunday 4 December 2016

Stephen Donnelly: Why forceful action is needed against the banks

Their aim is simple: to get back every cent they can. Two bills will give families the protection they need, writes Stephen Donnelly

Published 29/01/2012 | 05:00

THINK of everyone you know who has a mortgage. Family, friends, work colleagues. Today, one in 12 of them has not paid their mortgage for at least three months. At the present rate, in two years that will be one in six -- half a million men, women and children.

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Many more are living in poverty to avoid going into arrears. They are spending virtually nothing on themselves or their children. They are living in a state of constant fear and stress. Why? Because trying to negotiate with your bank once you go into arrears is like taking a penknife to a gunfight.

The banks have vast financial and legal resources which borrowers do not. They also have the law. The law says that your bank can repossess your house when you fall into arrears, and that a judge cannot take into account any mitigating circumstances. It says that your bank can move to bankrupt you for a debt as low as €1,900. If it succeeds, you will remain bankrupt for 12 years.

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