Kilkenny man Tony Lawlor is celebrating after Bank of Ireland was fined €100m for denying him and 16,000 others good-value tracker mortgages.
“I have been waiting for this day when Bank of Ireland gets fined for years,” he said.
Mr Lawlor has been fighting the bank for 12 years trying to get a tracker mortgage restored.
The retired registered paramedic claims he had a tracker for six years but alleges Bank of Ireland changed his terms and conditions in 2010, forcing him on to a more expensive variable rate.
He claimed before the Oireachtas Finance Committee that the bank engaged in a “reign of terror” in moving him and other customers off tracker mortgages.
“Suddenly in 2010, the tracker rate disappeared.
"The bank told me I never had a tracker.
"I said ‘what do you mean, I have been on a tracker for six years?’.”
He says the bank later denied him a right to appeal, causing him to go into arrears.
He is still fighting the bank.
But he has had to stop paying his mortgage as the expense has been too much for him.
Mr Lawlor (60) had to retire early from the HSE in 2014 after he had a heart attack when attending the scene of a multiple crash in Co Carlow.
In written personal testimony to the Oireachtas Finance Committee, he claimed Bank of Ireland has engaged in “underhand tactics” on mortgages, causing damage to people in the name of profit.
He claimed the bank relied on redacted documents, withheld relevant documents, “misrepresented” the terms of the original contract, and produced a mortgage deed that triggered a civil procedure to possess his family home.
Mr Lawlor, who has a law degree, said the bank “unilaterally and fundamentally without consent of any description, changed his mortgage contract,” applied a higher rate of interest above the prevailing ECB as set out in the contract.
However, his case to get a tracker was rejected by both the Circuit and the High Courts.
“This totally changed my life,” Mr Lawlor told the committee.
He said the saga meant he ended up in arrears for the first time in his life pushing him into an unnecessary default.
“The impact on me personally during this reign of terror where the bank defended the indefensible, delayed the inevitable, and denied the obvious, is akin to living a hell on earth to me.
“You stare financial ruin directly in the face and live with the real and present risk of homelessness destroying you as a person with the dreaded visit from a sheriff or private security firm to evict you from your family home,” Mr Lawlor told the Committee.
Mr Lawlor has vowed to keep fighting the bank.
Bank of Ireland said it does not comment on individual cases.
But it said that for any customer facing financial difficulty it tries to find a sustainable solution.
“We can find a sustainable solution in the vast majority of cases, but where a mortgage isn’t paid for many years legal action is unfortunately a last resort.
“This action is only taken after every other option has been exhausted.”
The bank said that in their rulings on the possession proceedings in this case, both the Circuit and High Court confirmed that this mortgage is not a tracker mortgage.