Business Personal Finance

Sunday 17 November 2019

Lenders continue to hope the problem goes away rather than clean up their own mess

Comment

Banks are failing to adequately deal with the mortgage arrears crisis
Banks are failing to adequately deal with the mortgage arrears crisis
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Asking the people who were largely responsible for wrecking the joint to clean it up was always going to be problematic.

The Government and the Central Bank realised that the banks, largely responsible for the mortgage mess, were not really going to get to grips with it.

So targets were set to force the main lenders to deal with it. This was an attempt to shake them into action.

The hope was that repayments would be lowered to manageable levels for those unable to repay what they borrowed.

As well as voluntary deals being done, the State put in place court-approved formal deals to be done through the Insolvency Service.

And there was always the option of bankruptcy, which has become cheaper with the discharge period coming down to three years.

Of course, the outcome of all this effort to resolve the crisis is that the banks have not played their part.

But the Central Bank and the Department of Finance allowed this to happen.

The numbers who are two years or more in arrears continue to rise. Many of these face repossession unless they get significant debt write-offs.

The reason banks are sorting out short-term arrears is because it is cheaper and easier to do so.

Tackling long-term arrears means that it is inevitable you will have to do one of two things - either repossess the home or write off debt. Neither option is attractive.

So banks are long-fingering the problem, even though we are seven years into it. They continue to hope it will solve itself.

Allowing the house wreckers to clean up the mess may mean there is no house to sort out for many people.

Irish Independent

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