Home owners across the country have revealed that their property deeds have been disappearing from banks in recent years.
Callers to RTÉ Radio One’s Liveline this afternoon spoke about how they had lodged their title deeds with their banks and can now no longer access them.
One caller, Sylvia Briggs said she had lodged an envelope containing her deeds with her bank in Dublin 16 years ago but when she returned to collect them this year she was told the bank did not have the envelope.
Sylvia explained: “The year 2000 I went to Bank of Ireland, which was my bank, over in James’s street and I put it in an envelope for safe keeping, which was very obviously the title deeds to my house – that was in June 2000.
“I went back on the 29th May this year and I asked them for them. Now I did that on the phone and about two days later I rang, giving them time to retrieve them and they told me they hadn’t got them.
“I said it’s ridiculous, I have the receipt I was given and so on. Now this has gone on since the 29th May. I have got absolutely nowhere with Bank of Ireland.”
Sylvia said she then visited the bank to try to resolve the issue but was unable to establish what had happened to the deeds.
She explained: “When I came in, luckily I went up to a young man and said ‘I want to see the manager’ and this woman said ‘It’s me’ and brought me into her office.
“When she realised, she said ‘I have to get in touch with such and such a department’ but she didn’t in my presence and I was left sitting in her office, I would say about 20 minutes. I didn’t time it. I didn’t realise I was going to be that long.”
“They didn’t use the word ‘lost’, they said ‘We haven’t got them’ but they never used the word ‘lost’,” she added.
She told the show that when she originally lodged the documents she understood they would be kept in a safe but couldn’t swear to that.
"Well I understood they were [offering the service]. And when I came in nobody was surprised at the request. It seemed to be routine and I was instantly brought up to the counter and the lady took out this register of some sort and she wrote out the docket there and then in my presence.”
She said: “I was full confident in the bank. I never anticipated anything like this, to be fair. Maybe I was naïve – I realise now I was. Even though it’s a small house, the land on which it is, is quite complicated so it’s a very thick envelope.”
Sylvia said she needs the deeds to sell her house and so must now create a new set of deeds at an estimated cost of between €4000 and €5000.
“I look at the Bank of Ireland. I’ve been a taxpayer all my life. My money went towards rescuing them and they treat the public with contempt and I stand over that.”
Another caller, Maura said she had faced a similar issue which has stalled the sale of her brother’s house for the past 14 months.
She explained: “My brother was selling his house in Achill Island and the bank lost his title deeds and we had to get the deeds reconstituted. So it has caused a huge delay in selling the house. We’re over a year trying to complete this transaction.
“We’ve had to get the deeds reconstituted, which has then involved searching the title deeds, searching all the planning permissions. We actually had to reapply for retention planning permission for an extension that has already been put on the house when we bought it.”
“We’ve had €3,000 for the engineers to do the retention of planning permission and we haven’t even factored in the legal fees for getting the deeds reconstituted yet because we haven’t got that yet, so you’re looking at huge money.”
Maura told the show one of the first problems they faced was getting the bank to admit the deeds had been misplaced.
“First of all getting them to admit that they had lost the deeds, I think it actually took me six weeks for them to admit they had misplaced the deeds. Basically they just shrugged their shoulders and went ‘That’s it’.
“They sent out a letter saying they could not source the deeds.”
Several other callers detailed similar experiences with their own banks.