Friday 22 February 2019

50,000 buy-to-let mortgages late on payments

Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

ALMOST 50,000 buy-to-let mortgage accounts are three months or more behind on their repayments.

The arrears level for investor mortgages is twice that of residential home loans, early indications from a new attempt by the Central Bank to gather figures on investor mortgages indicates.

Some 22pc of the total number of buy-to-let mortgages are three months or more in arrears across all lenders in the market, the Irish Independent has learned. The initial trawl through the investor mortgages of all lenders also indicates that there are around 200,000 buy-to-let mortgage accounts.

Some people have multiple investor mortgages.

Early indications from the Central Bank research show that between 40,000 and 50,000 mortgage accounts are in arrears.

And banks are resisting calls by Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan to move in and repossess properties where the mortgage is in default.

Instead, they are appointing what are called rent receivers to collect rents directly from tenants of buy-to-let investors as a way of gaining control of the income stream of the properties.

Banks are recoiling from Central Bank pressure to take control of properties where the mortgage is in default as they fear that mass repossessions would further depress house and apartment prices, which are already down 50pc.

Prof Honohan told banks in March that he wants them to bite the bullet and repossess properties where repayments are not being met.

Mr Honohan said in a speech in Limerick: "It is surely past time for the banks to be dealing more proactively with the situation of over-indebted buy-to-let borrowers."

This would get the distressed mortgages away from investors, and stop the build-up of arrears on the loans.

Many middle-income families overextended themselves to buy investment properties.

Gardai, teachers, shopkeepers and small business owners are among those who got bitten by the property investor bug.

Irish Independent

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