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Debt victims 'need more protection' from banks

PLANS to restore the rights of banks to repossess homes should be balanced by extra protections for the over-indebted, advocates for those in mortgage arrears have said.

There was a need for those who are heavily in debt to get independent advice where they risk losing their homes, the legal rights body Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) said.

Commenting on moves by legislation to restore the rights of lenders to repossess homes, FLAC said there was a need for debtors to have adequate legal and financial information and advice in legal proceedings.

The new Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Bill 2013 is being debated in the Dail.

The bill is being introduced to reverse the effects of a judgment given by High Court Judge Elizabeth Dunne in 2011.

It became more difficult for lenders to repossess when she ruled that they could not use particular court processes to apply to repossess properties.

Noeline Blackwell of FLAC said: "While the bill focuses primarily on addressing the issues thrown up by the Dunne judgment, FLAC is anxious that the increase in lenders' powers proposed in the bill be balanced by enhancing the protection available to over-indebted borrowers."

And the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation (IMHO) claimed borrowers are not accorded any real protection within the bill.

David Hall of the IMHO said: "The bill will assist banks in repossessing family homes and other property without having shown any evidence of dealing effectively with the mortgage arrears and debt sustainability issues relating to the borrower."

Irish Independent