Friday 15 December 2017

No across board write-down of mortgages – Noonan

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan is ruling out across-the-board write-downs of mortgage debt.

In the wake of the Government's new mortgage arrears plan, the minister also admitted there will be an increase in repossessions as the banks move towards resolving the mortgage crisis.

However, Mr Noonan said repossessions would be a "residual option in extremis".

Without the threat of repossession, he said, the deeds held by banks as collateral for home loans were worthless.

"It does not work otherwise. If there is no provision in law for repossession there is no mortgage market," he said.

But Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said that Central Bank deputy governor Matthew Elderfield believes there has to be a significant number of repossessions.

"And that doesn't tally with the language of only in extremis. It does not tally with the Taoiseach's claim that it would be only in very extreme cases. There is something missing in the equation," he said.

Mr Noonan said any write-down would be done on a case-by-case basis.

"There will not be any kind of across-the-board write-down for people who can pay but who are not paying," he said.

Mr Noonan said solutions will be offered to families under the Government's new proposals for dealing with the mortgage arrears crisis.

He said the Government was also dealing with the issue of the loophole currently blocking repossessions. Mr Noonan said the draft of the legislation, known as the heads of the bill, were approved by Cabinet this week. Justice Minister Alan Shatter hopes to have it passed into law before the summer.

However, the Irish Mortgage Holders' Organisation's David Hall predicts that there will be a "spiralling" increase in home repossessions and borrowers will have less rights.

"There is nothing surer than death, taxes and repossessions – everyone has been very clear about that," he said.

Irish Independent

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