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I'm fighting breast cancer and my husband is ill. Now we face losing out home

A woman fighting cancer and her husband who has epilepsy face losing their home in a row with their bank.

Susan Healy was diagnosed with breast cancer just two weeks after her husband Ken was told by doctors that he had epilepsy.

Ken (40) was working as a taxi-driver but was told that he could never drive again due to the constant seizures associated with epilepsy.

The couple, from Tivoli in Cork, said they have a 100pc mortgage and even throughout their illnesses they kept up the payments as best they could.

Susan (40) is still receiving treatment every day in Cork and is awaiting the results of a scan.

"We've tried everything but then when we were both sick it was more difficult," Ken explained.

Their mortgage lender, Ulster Bank, agreed to suspend the interest on their payments for six months.

Since the onset of the illnesses 18 months ago, Ken said that his own mother died and left her house to him in her will.

The couple, who have one teenage daughter, have agreed to sell up their home and received a cash offer of €210,000 with deposit already paid.



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However, Ken said that the bank have refused to accept the offer and also warned that they could repossess the house as well as issuing a judgment against the man's family home.

"I'm willing to give them everything -- I just want to resolve it," he said.

"I rang our solicitor. His advice all the time was to resolve the issue, sell our home -- but he thought they would settle for €210,000. Now they want both houses to go up for sale.

"From our side, we're losing everything," he said.

Ken said that focusing on the illnesses was hard enough and now they have the added worry of a potential repossession as well as a debt of more than €250,000.

"We have no income now other than disability," he said. "I'm afraid they are just going to start the repossession, they told me they would get a judgment on my mother's house.

"It'd kill me if I had to give up the family home as well -- it's been in our family for generations," he added.

Ken said that he wanted to tell his story to highlight the issue but does not know where to turn.

Ulster Bank said that they could not comment on individual customer cases, but it said that it "always assesses a customer's situation individually and fairly".

"We offer forbearance terms based on that assessment and what the customer can manage to pay," the representative said. "In principal, the Bank does not write off mortgage debt."

Frank Conway, Director of the Irish Mortgage Corporation, said that the new code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA) came into force on January 1, 2011, and is very clear on the responsibilities of both the lender and the borrower.

"In terms of selling the property for less than what is owed, I am afraid that the lender has the law on their side," he said. First off, Ireland is a 'recourse' lending country and any shortfall from the sale of the property is still owed to the lender. In terms of the shortfall, the lender can impose what repayment conditions it deems appropriate to collect the full amount of the debt.

Mr Conway said that if borrowers are following the rules set down by the CCMA code, then a lender would be in breach but said that if they are not "all bets are off".

clairemurphy@herald.ie


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