Figures released today from the Central Bank suggest that five families a day are losing their homes.
Main points released by Central Bank:
The number of mortgage accounts for principal dwelling houses (PDH) in arrears fell further in the fourth quarter of 2016; this marks the fourteenth consecutive quarter of decline. A total of 77,493 (11%) of accounts were in arrears at end-December, a decline of 2.6% relative to September 2016.
The number of accounts in arrears over 90 days at end-December was 54,269 (7%), reflecting a quarter-on-quarter decline of 3.7%. This represents the thirteenth consecutive decline in the number of PDH accounts in arrears over 90 days.
The majority of maturity categories of arrears, including the over 720 days’ category, declined in Q4 2016. This category recorded a sixth consecutive decline, having declined for the first time in Q3 2015. The decline of 3.2% in Q4 2016 was the largest decline in this category to date.
The number of PDH mortgage accounts that were classified as restructured at end-December was 120,944. Of these restructured accounts, 87 per cent were deemed to be meeting the terms of their current restructure arrangement, down slightly from previous quarter. There was a continued reduction in short-term restructure arrangements such as Interest Only and Reduced Payments, which was partly offset by an increase in longer-term arrangements such as split mortgages.
Buy-to-let (BTL) mortgage accounts in arrears over 90 days decreased by 4.4 per cent during the fourth quarter of 2016. At end-December there were 14,028 BTL accounts in arrears over 720 days, with an outstanding balance of €4.1 billion, equivalent to 17% of the total outstanding balance on all BTL mortgage accounts.
There was a slight decrease of 0.5% in the number of BTL accounts where a rent receiver was appointed; this follows on from an increase of 5.4% in the previous quarter.
Non-bank entities now hold 48,562 mortgage accounts for PDH and BTL combined. Of this number, almost 63% are held by regulated retail credit firms, with the remainder held by unregulated loan owners. Some 41% of PDH accounts held by unregulated loan owners are in arrears of over 720 days, compared to 18% of accounts held by retail credit firms.
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty has accused the government of political cowardice in allowing banks to sell distressed mortgages to unregulated vultures.
He has criticised the government’s failure to implement the main planks of its programme for government plan to tackle mortgage arrears, highlighting that five families a day are losing their homes.
"This government has well and truly taken its eye off the ball when it comes to mortgages" he said.
"It is unfortunately clear that this government, like the last, lacks the political will to tackle this issue. The banks and the vultures will clean up this mess in their own way at the expense of struggling families.
"It is extremely worrying that 41% of family home mortgages owned by unregulated vulture funds are in deep arrears."
Deputy Doherty criticised Michael Noonan's efforts as Minister for Finance.
"Only last week I had to call on Minister Noonan to stop any sale of vulnerable family mortgages to vultures through Permanent TSB. As usual I was met only with silence.
"As long as he is Minister for Finance the vultures will continue to feast on Ireland."