HOMEOWNERS unable to pay their mortgages are afraid of being left on the street if they surrender their homes to the banks.
A local authority can deem a homeowner who agrees to a possession order to have voluntarily made themselves homeless and to therefore be ineligible for social housing.
Yesterday two couples from counties Tipperary and Dublin told of their fears of being left homeless after agreeing to possession orders against their homes.
Grandparents John and Patricia Burnett, from Cahir, Co Tipperary, said they feared they would not be considered for social housing after they consented to the order.
The couple moved back to Ireland 10 years ago and were mortgage free at that time.
"We will be homeless in eight weeks," said Mrs Burnett, who urged those struggling with their mortgages to engage with lenders and other agencies.
The couple fell into arrears when Mr Burnett, a former truck driver, lost his job two years ago.
Another couple from Dublin, with three children under the age of 12, spoke of their fear that their consent to voluntary possession would have "huge repercussions" for their eligibility for social housing.
The man and woman, who are taxi drivers working 80- and 100-hour weeks respectively, accepted that they were "in over their heads". They agreed to a possession order and have six months to find accommodation.
In all, some 14 possession orders were granted in the High Court yesterday. Four were to Stepstone Mortgage Funding, three to Start Mortgages and two to Secured Property Loans, while Bank of Ireland, Danske Bank, GE Capital Woodchester, Nua Mortgages and GE Money were granted one apiece.
Last night the Free Legal Advice Centres said it was concerned that local authorities are refusing to place homeowners on housing lists where they have voluntarily surrendered their homes on foot of possession proceedings.
A victim of the crippled construction industry yesterday narrowly avoided having his property repossessed after an "unidentified person" dropped a cheque towards his mounting debt into a solicitor's office.
Start Mortgages sought repossession of the property in north Co Mayo after the man fell into arrears of more than €50,000 with a total debt of almost €300,000.