Wednesday 21 February 2018

Government accused of 'massaging' mortgage deal numbers

Thousands still waiting for refund on property tax. Picture posed/ Thinkstock
Thousands still waiting for refund on property tax. Picture posed/ Thinkstock

Charlie Weston, Personal Finance Editor

THE Government has been accused of "massaging" the figures on the number of people in mortgage distress who have been offered a deal by their banks.

The Department of Finance said the six main banks have put in place 14,000 permanent repayment plans for residential mortgage accounts that are in arrears.

This represents one in four of those who are three months or more in arrears.

However, David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation accused the department of manipulating the figures.

He said the inclusion of interest-only deals – generally regarded as a short-term fix – in the numbers was distorting the true picture.

"The department is massaging the figures. It has interest-only deals listed as both temporary restructures and permanent restructures. That makes no sense," he said.

He accused banks of picking out the easiest cases for offers of long-term repayment deals, instead of targeting those who are in the deepest trouble.

A spokesman for the department denied the deals had been dressed up to make them look better.

The figures outline the arrears and the number of permanent repayment deals put in place by AIB, Bank of Ireland, Permanent TSB, ACC, KBC Ireland and Ulster Bank.

"It is not the case that the department is massaging the figures," the spokesman said.

The department said that more distressed mortgage holders have been offered arrangements on their home loans.

A total of 81,156 mortgage accounts are in arrears at the six main banks. This is a fall of 1,374 from the numbers in arrears in September, the department said.

It said the six main domestic banks have now offered 51,188 permanent mortgage restructuring deals to mortgage holders who are in distress.

However, a large number of these are not in arrears.

If you strip out those who are not in arrears, just 14,000 out of 81,156 arrears cases in the six banks have been offered what the department says is a permanent restructure.

This represents just one in four of those in who are in arrears.

Meanwhile, more pressure is being put on the Government to protect mortgage holders who took out their loans with the old Irish Nationwide Building Society.

Fianna Fail has published proposed legislation aimed at protecting the mortgage holders if their loans are sold to unregulated third parties.

The 2014 Protection of Residential Mortgage Account Holders Bill is being published ahead of the imminent sale of IBRC mortgage assets. The mortgages were moved into IBRC along with Anglo loans. But IBRC is being liquidated by KPMG.

The Irish Nationwide mortgage book is due to be sold, which would mean that the homeowners would not be covered by Central Bank protections.

There are some 13,250 mortgages that were originally taken out with Irish Nationwide, but were later moved into IBRC.

Around half of these mortgages are in arrears.

Irish Independent

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