‘Tsunami’ of repossessions on its way

By Pádraig Hoare

The numbers that will be affected by home repossessions “could fill Croke Park” because of the intransigence of banks and the “cancer” of vulture funds, a mortgage campaigner has claimed.

David Hall, of the Irish Mortgage Holders’ Organisation, told the Oireachtas Finance Committee that a “tsunami is coming” with 17,000 mortgage holders vulnerable to having their homes repossessed.

“I now believe that 17,000 mortgage holders which affect nearly 80,000 people — a Croke Park full of citizens —will have their homes repossessed. This is because the banks have been complicit in hiding the human crisis and destruction that is ahead,” he told TDs and senators.

He said the selling on of mortgages in arrears to vulture funds was a “social evil” that had been allowed to happen under the watch of the Government and the Central Bank.

“Vulture funds are a cancer in our society.

“They have one thing on their agenda and that is feasting on the carcasses of those who suffered because of the gambling by banks.

“While banks are horrible, they must out of a mix of legal, fiscal and social necessity — and for reasons of PR, provide some solutions. Vultures are by contrast a social evil.

“Vultures are a symptom of the failure of Government, the Department of Housing, the Department of Finance, the Central Bank and the banks,” Mr Hall said.

He said that a damaging narrative was emerging that thousands in arrears were “messers, strategic defaulters, and non-engagers”, which, he said, was a false characterisation.

“The majority of those in long-term arrears which stands at 31,5000 households can’t pay,” Mr Hall said.

He claimed homelessness would quadruple in the next two years unless a Nama-type organisation was formed to take over non-performing loans in all of the lenders.

Askaboutmoney founder Brendan Burgess said he estimated that 10,000 mortgage holders were making no attempt to pay their arrears and should face having properties repossessed, adding that vulture funds were necessary.

“Because there is no effective sanction in Ireland for the 10,000 or so irresponsible borrowers, the 300,000 responsible borrowers pay their mortgages for them. The 300,000 borrowers pay the highest rates in Europe. You don’t get free accommodation. It would not be tolerated anywhere else,” he told the same committee.

Martha O’Hagan Luff, assistant professor of finance at Trinity Business School, said while it was essential the most vulnerable were protected, there were substantial risks in not resolving non-performing loans.

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