Tuesday 23 January 2018

Repossession court actions jump 60pc

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

THE number of new repossession actions initiated in the High Court have increased by almost 60pc in a year.

In total, 361 new repossession actions were lodged in the first six months of 2011, compared to 229 for the same period last year.

No exact breakdown of the lenders involved in the actions is available yet. However, almost all of the High Court repossession actions were taken by sub-prime lenders who charged much higher interest rates than high street banks such as AIB and Bank of Ireland.

It can take up to four years to repossess a home from the time a lender lodges a legal action demanding recovery of the mortgaged property.

Many actions are resolved prior to repossession as judges facilitate negotiations and repayment plans between borrowers and lenders.

Almost 600 cases in total were started in the courts in 2010, a figure that is set to be surpassed this year based on the provisional data released to the Irish Independent by the Courts Service. Provisional Circuit Court repossession figures, where many of Ireland's bailed out banks lodge their actions to avoid the negative publicity that comes with High Court cases, are not yet available for 2011.

Repossession actions have surged as the financial crisis deepens.

In 2005 and 2006 there were just 60 and 61 court-ordered repossessions respectively. This rose to 293 repossessions in 2009 and 326 last year.

The number of new cases is just a fraction of the number of homeowners in difficulty, with more than 25,000 in long-term arrears of a year or more who have little or no prospect of ever meeting their repayments.

The vast gulf between the actual numbers of people in difficulty and the paucity of court-ordered repossessions is due to state forbearance policies and a reluctance by banks to evict families and take on properties that have plunged in value.

Almost 63,000 of the total 786,164 mortgages in the State have also been restructured to ease the burden on struggling householders. Less than half of the restructured cohort are not in arrears at present.

Irish Independent

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