Friday 20 July 2018

New guide to help families in mortgage distress prevent evictions

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Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A group of legal experts are launching a guide which aims to help Irish families in mortgage distress prevent eviction by using EU consumer and human rights laws.

The authors of the guide, ‘Your EU Consumer and Human Rights: A Guide for People in Mortgage Distress in Ireland’, have claimed courts here are not fully applying EU law. 

The guide has been developed in conjunction with the Open Society Foundations, the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy at NUI Galway and a group of Irish lawyers and advocates.

“The widespread practice of repossessing people’s homes without consideration of any wrongdoing on the part of the lender and the impact of the loss of the home on the household as required by EU law is a violation of their human rights,” said Marguerite Angelari, lead author of the guide.

A decade after the crash, and with one in 10 mortgages in arrears, Ireland continues to have the highest level of mortgage defaults in the world. 

Central Bank of Ireland statistics at September 2017 show that over 72,000 mortgages are in arrears.  A massive 44pc (over 31,000) of these are in arrears for over two years, putting them at far greater risk of mortgage repossession.

The laws outlined in the Guide oblige Irish courts to assess the fairness of mortgage terms under the EU Unfair Contract Terms Directive. The guide also says that the Irish Courts should also assess the human rights impact of an eviction on all occupants in the home – including children, older people and people with disabilities – under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

“Our Guide sets out simply and clearly how existing EU law should be routinely applied to determine, firstly, whether a mortgage contract term is fair and, secondly, whether a possession or eviction notice is a proportional response to any breach of a mortgage term,” said Dr Padraic Kenna, Director of the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy, NUI Galway and one of the authors of the report.

“By applying these EU laws, Irish courts and lawyers can really assist their clients and vulnerable defendants,” he continued.

The authors have stressed that the Guide is for information purposes only.  It does not provide legal advice, and is not a substitute for consulting a lawyer. They suggest, within the Guide, that people share it with their solicitors.  They also acknowledge, however, that a high number of people facing possession are unrepresented, due to the shortage of free and low cost legal services.

 It is available to download at http://abusivelending.org.

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