Monday 26 February 2018

Homeowners are given ray of hope in battle with lenders

As more houses are lost, a radical new group says it's time to fight for the underdog, writes Maeve Sheehan

Every Monday morning, indebted home-owners crowd into the chancery division of Dublin's High Court.

They are herded upstairs and into the stultifying atmosphere of the grim courtroom, hauled there by financial institutions because they can no longer afford the mortgage repayments on homes bought in the boom that are now in negative equity. They are often strangers to the legal process but have no one to represent them in this intimidating atmosphere. Most are so broke they cannot afford a solicitor and debt cases don't usually qualify for free legal aid.

Into this room two weeks ago, a mother from Cork took her turn in front of Mr Justice Brian McGovern, and wiping tears from her eyes, surrendered the family home she bought with a €336,000 mortgage in 2007. Months after buying their home, her husband lost his construction job and started falling behind in payments. They owed GE Money €400,000 and the lender wanted to repossess their house. She couldn't take it any more: "I can't cope anymore, there is just so much stress . . . I know it's horrible to leave my home, but I need to get out," she told the judge, begging him to enforce the repossession order.

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