Thousands of struggling mortgage holders could be offered an option to stay in their homes as social housing tenants - after handing their home back to the bank - under a scheme being finalised by Environment Minister Alan Kelly.
Under the new mortgage-to-rent scheme, private companies or investors would buy the homes off the banks and local authorities would act as management companies and lease them to the former owners.
The scheme will be unveiled as part of a package involving insolvency and bankruptcy measures in the next fortnight.
When it is operational, banks will be able to clean up their books by offloading mortgages, while local authorities will collect a rent and pay it to the private company.
This model of ownership change would keep people in their homes.
More than 37,000 mortgage holders are now in long-term arrears, having made no payments in the past two years, according to Central Bank figures.
The scheme would not add to social housing list numbers because people would be staying in their homes, and it is understood that banks and private companies have expressed an interest in the proposals.
The plan comes as repossession rates rocketed more than 500pc since last year, according to figures from the Courts Service.
In the first three months of this year a total of 586 repossession orders were granted by the circuit court, compared with 95 in the same time period last year.
Of these, 383 were for primary homes, while 97 were for buy-to-let properties, and 106 were listed as 'unknown'.
The highest number of repossession orders allowed was in Dublin Circuit Court where, between January and March, 100 repossession orders were granted, of which 63 were for primary homes.
The Courts Service does not have records for the number of actual repossessions that have occurred, but said the figures supplied showed the numbers of repossession orders granted.
"It is a matter for the person or company who obtained the order for possession to pursue its execution," a spokesman for the Courts Service said.
Permanent TSB was granted the most orders this year - a figure of 175 homes in the first quarter with 88 applications refused.
Ulster Bank was granted 82 repossession orders and had 44 refused.
EBS Limited was granted 55 orders, with 30 applications refused, and KBC Bank Ireland was granted repossession orders for 50 primary homes.
The increase in repossession orders being granted puts added pressure on the Government in its efforts to cope with a worsening housing and homelessness crisis.