Wednesday 22 November 2017

Banks to pick up the tab for mortgages at Priory Hall

Environment Minister Phil Hogan has set a 21-day deadline for those involved to find a range of credible solutions for the former residents
Environment Minister Phil Hogan has set a 21-day deadline for those involved to find a range of credible solutions for the former residents

Clodagh Sheehy

BANKS may be forced to pick up the tab for outstanding mortgages at Priory Hall.

The Government will recommend that former residents of the apartments should have their outstanding mortgages wiped out and be allowed to hand back the keys to the banks.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan has set a 21-day deadline for those involved to find a range of credible solutions for the former residents.

He has asked officials from his department to meet Dublin City Council, the Irish Banking Federation, NAMA, former residents and other stakeholders and to report back with a "proposed resolution".

Residents' spokesman Graham Usher said there has been no official approach from the Government about handing back the keys. But he is happy that some action is finally being taken.

"By the looks of things it seems that the Government is taking what's going on quite seriously now," he said. "We've been very clear from the start – we weren't asking the State for money, we were asking for their help with the banks.

"We've been two years trying to get the banks to do something and they've dragged their feet," he added.

Earlier, the financial adviser to 40 of the residents, Michael Dowling, said residents would "like to see mortgages absorbed by the banks and written off".

He said they wanted those mortgages replaced with new ones with similar financial agreements for a property of their choosing.

He said former residents of the complex did not want to go back to Priory Hall, even if it was renovated.

The adviser said he was confident the intervention of Taoiseach Enda Kenny would lead to a solution.

Mr Kenny has already said he had no problem meeting the former residents to discuss their problems.

Mr Dowling had suggested that if the residents were allowed to hand the keys back and start again, the banks in turn would have the security of the Priory Hall complex and could work with Dublin City Council to use the funds available to repair the apartment block.

Sixty-five families were moved out of Priory Hall nearly two years ago because of fire safety problems and are living in temporary accommodation paid for by Dublin City Council, who are reimbursed by central government.

The Supreme Court is due to rule next month on the city council's appeal against a High Court ruling that it is responsible for the accommodation costs.

Irish Independent

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