Saturday 19 October 2019

Kenny to meet insolvency experts over fears of mass repossessions

Lorcan O’Connor of the Insolvency Service. Photo: Tom Burke
Lorcan O’Connor of the Insolvency Service. Photo: Tom Burke
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Fears that thousands of homeowners are facing repossession ahead of an election has prompted Taoiseach Enda Kenny to call in the head of the State Insolvency Service for a meeting on Wednesday.

There is concern in Government that few debt deals between banks and homeowners are being done, leaving those in arrears vulnerable to having their homes taken from them.

Some 30,000 homeowners have received letters from their banks threatening repossession.

These arrears cases could end up swamping the courts just as an election is called, in 2016.

Only 1,000 debt deals were done in the first year of operation of the State Insolvency Service, with half of these bankruptcies.

There has been widespread criticism of the Insolvency Service as it has got off to a very slow start.

Now head of the service Lorcan O'Connor and five of the most active personal insolvency practitioners (Pips) in the country are set to meet Mr Kenny on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr O'Connor said: "The Insolvency Service of Ireland can confirm that a meeting between the Taoiseach and practitioners is scheduled for next week. The Taoiseach wants to hear the experiences of practitioners on the ground who are dealing with debt cases."

Families face the threat of having their homes repossessed ahead of the next election with almost 38,000 borrowers now more than two years behind on their mortgages.

The average arrears on those accounts is touching €45,000.

That suggests that thousands of distressed borrowers have little or no chance of ever getting back on an even keel under current arrangements.

However, one debt expert explained that at a court case in Wicklow recently a judge referred a number of cases to Pips who found that most could do a debt deal that would keep them in their homes.

Banks have shown a reluctance to do deals that involve writing off mortgage debt, although they are prepared to write off unsecured debts.

The Oireachtas Finance Committee was told recently that 30,000 family homeowners have received legal letters threatening repossession.

Irish Independent

Also in Business