Wednesday 13 December 2017

Lenders declare 'open season' on thousands of borrowers

Charlie Weston, Personal Finance Editor

THE phony war between banks and thousands of troubled mortgage-holders is coming to a head.

Banks are about to be re-armed and equipped with almost every tool they have requested from regulators and the Government.

At the same time, borrowers are set to lose many of the protections they have enjoyed up to now.

This means that the outcome of the war is likely to be defeat for borrowers, with victory for the banks.

Officials have been pushing the banks to act on the mortgage arrears problem for almost five years, without success.

Banks held back from acting for fear that they would run out of capital, if forced to crystallise mortgage losses, leading to another bailout.

And the banks seem to have convinced regulators that a large number of the 143,000 who are in arrears can pay, but are either choosing not to or diverting the money elsewhere.

The banks have been given new powers – many argue they are getting too many powers – to act on the arrears problem.

Banks will have to prove that they have made offers to 20pc of their customers who are three months or more behind on their repayments to resolve the arrears.

Those in arrears are suddenly going to find that there has been a dramatic shift in power to the banks.

Irish Independent

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