Tuesday 10 December 2019

Banks yet to write off Priory Hall loans – months after deal

The Priory Hall development in north Dublin. Photo: PA
The Priory Hall development in north Dublin. Photo: PA
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

FORMER residents of Priory Hall are yet to have their mortgages written off by the banks, over half a year after the deal was announced, the Irish Independent has learnt.

Legal issues have meant that the debt deal, involving the transfer of ownership of the apartments to Dublin City Council, has taken longer than hoped, it is understood.

Last October, families of the condemned firetrap were informed that their mortgages would be written off as part of a deal to draw a line under the affair. Around 90 families were left in limbo after being evacuated in October 2011 from the dangerous north Dublin complex, built by disgraced developer Tom McFeely.

But the committee established to push through the agreement, chaired by Martin McAleese, is still working.

Michael Dowling, financial adviser to the residents, told the Irish Independent that the process to implement a framework agreement was taking longer than expected.

"My understanding is that we are very close to the transfer," he added.

Spokesperson for the residents, Graham Usher, who is part of the group hammering out the deal, said that he expected the mortgages to be transferred within weeks.

"It hasn't been finalised, it's still in progress," Mr Usher said.

It's not all bad news for residents. Mr Dowling explained how the length of time taking to conclude the deal has not prevented residents from securing new homes.

Two families have purchased and moved into new homes while 17 have been mortgage approved and of them eight have signed contracts on new properties.

Mr Dowling said that banks understood that the deal to transfer previous mortgage debt was about to go through, so dealt with families on that basis.

"One problem that we didn't foresee is that the property market has become a lot more expensive than anticipated," he added.

Meanwhile, Dublin City Council has revealed plans to complete the redevelopment of the complex in 10 phases over two years. Tender requests for the first two phases of the redevelopment of the complex – around 30pc of the apartments – were issued by the council on March 31.

Completed tenders are due to be returned to the council by the end of this month and contractors will be appointed to these phases "following a technical and commercial analysis".

The final cost of the Priory Hall fiasco is estimated to be as much as €20m.

Irish Independent

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