House seizures reach record high

HOMEOWNERS struggling to meet mortgage repayments have been warned to tackle their financial problems head on, as repossessions hit a record high.

A total of 78 cases for repossessions, including one case of a couple with a special needs child, were listed for hearing at the High Court, the largest number so far this year.

However, that figure is expected to soar even further when the courts return in the autumn.

While a 12-month moratorium against pursuing mortgage arrears has been in place at both Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Banks since February, a six-month stay on all other lenders is set to run out in the coming weeks while the courts are on holidays.

Addressing the impending rise in the number of repossession cases High Court Judge Brian McGovern warned it was better for defaulting mortgage payers to deal with matters before the courts rather than ignore their dire situations.

“It’s better that you’re here. If you ignore it, it’s not going to go away.”

Ten repossession orders were granted at yesterday’s court sitting. The 78 repossession cases heard included one Waterford-based family who, the court heard, had left a rural area specifically to cater for the special needs of their child and were now “losing everything” as they were unable to meet loan payments since August 2008. The balance due on the loan secured on their home was €308,559.

The home had been vacant since November last year after the family made efforts to meet payments by renting it for nearly €1,000 a month.

Clearly upset, a mother told the court the family had done everything to try and cut a deal with Stepstone Mortgage Funding, which had financed the loan. The woman said she had sent a letter to the mortgage company but had not received a response.

An angry Judge Brian McGovern ordered the company to clarify if it had responded to the letter and gave the family a number of months to meet arrears.

“It’s bad enough people find themselves in this situation and their homes being repossessed, but then there’s correspondence that’s not being addressed.”

In another case the court heard how a man living in Tralee faced losing his shop as well as the attached home because he was unable to meet repayments to Ulster Bank. His small supermarket had gone bust and he had been unable to sell the shop since 2008 because of “the fall in the economy”.

“I obviously want a roof over my head. I’ve no problem with the shop [being repossessed],” he said.

Judge McGovern gave him until October to try and meet some of his arrears.


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