Families 'simply cannot pay' as courts reveal five-fold increase in home repossessions

Families 'simply cannot pay' as courts reveal five-fold increase in home repossessions

The rate at which homes are being repossessed has increased by more than 500% since last year.

New figures from the Courts Service show 586 repossession orders were granted by the Circuit Court in the first three months of this year.

That is compared with 95 in the same period last year.

The majority - 383 - related to primary homes, 97 were buy-to-let and 106 were unknown.

The greatest number granted was in Dublin, followed by Cork, Laois and Wexford while Sligo saw the fewest granted at just one.

Ross Maguire, senior counsel with lobby group New Beginnings, said that almost all repossessions are of people's primary homes.

"Almost all are primary homes. There are very few buy-to-lets, they appoint receivers to buy-to-lets they generally do not repossess them, so we are talking in the main about family homes," said Maguire.

"Whether it be in Cavan, or in Galway or in Limerick or Dublin, it is the same story everywhere. Families have too much debt and they simply cannot pay."

This morning’s figures confirmed what those working with and on behalf of borrowers in mortgage arrears have known for some time, legal rights organisation Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) said.

“It is high time that the Government ended the speculation and announced its proposals,” said FLAC director General, Noeline Blackwell.

“There are thousands of families in deep distress waiting for some positive development that may bring their nightmare to a close”.

She added: “Any Government announcement must tackle the imbalance of power between lender and borrower.

“A power for the court to overturn unfair decisions by lenders would be welcome, but borrowers must have access to assistance to make that case.”

The lack of detailed information on creditor-debtor engagements has allowed some perceptions to take hold, according to FLAC’s senior policy analyst, Paul Joyce.

“One of these is that repossession cases are only brought against people who are not engaging with their lender,” he said.

“Where is the evidence to support this?” he asked.

“The Central Bank must demand that lenders produce figures on mortgages they have deemed unsustainable and on mortgages where borrowers have rejected unsuitable payment proposals, as well as the number of cases labelled as non-cooperating.

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