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Banks now fear flood of mortgage claims

BANKS are braced for a flood of claims after nurse Laura White had 90pc of her outstanding mortgage written off.

Ms White became one of the first people in the country to secure significant debt forgiveness from her bank.

The 35-year-old secured a deal with Bank of Ireland which absolved her of a €152,000 debt on a €245,000 mortgage she took out in 2005.

A deal was struck which means she now has to pay €250 a month for the next six years, amounting to €18,000.

Barrister Ross Maguire of New Beginning -- which helps indebted homeowners -- believes similar agreements will become the norm within years.

However, Bank of Ireland has moved to dampen the hopes of distressed mortgage holders, saying "debt forgiveness is not a resolution policy it employs".

It said the outcome of the case was the end of an exhaustive debt recovery process.



overdraft

Donaghmede nurse Ms White has told of how she is trying to survive with no credit card and no overdraft. She also faces a €120,000 judgment if she fails to make the repayments.

"I can't get a loan, I can't get an overdraft, I can't get a credit card. My credit rating is completely gone," she said.

"I've been living that life for the last three years. I'm driving a 1997 VW Golf, I have an old Nokia phone that's a dinosaur, and I'm living in digs in Kildare," she added.

"That's compared to the sweet promise back in 2005 when I had my own place in Coolock and it was great.

"But I can live with that. I won't have to do it for 30 years."

After handing her apartment back to the bank but still being unable to clear the debt, she went to New Beginning for help.

The organisation was set up to help people like her, people who were suffering mortgage difficulty in a climate of falling prices and negative equity.

Her advice to other people in her situation was not to panic.

"There is hope. Ross Maguire from New Beginning was great, and Maire Mullarkey, my barrister, did it pro-bono, she didn't charge anything. There is help out there," she said.

"You need to be willing to pay something. Back in 2005 I took out a mortgage, I signed a legal document.

"At the time in 2009 I tried to negotiate with the bank. I was renting out a room, then renting out the apartment. I tried different things but it was still too much for me and then everything collapsed.

"But the banks are showing they are being more lenient if you are willing to pay something and to be fair.

"It's commendable for Bank of Ireland that they have negotiated this deal. They are just and fair."

hnews@herald.ie


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