Banks to get tough on home owners over debt

A woman said she “panicked” and hid a bank’s repossession letter from her husband, as experts warned that families in mortgage arrears they can no longer ignore the problems as this will be “the year of the repossessions”.

Banks to get tough on home owners over debt

The Co Clare mother of five was speaking after her case was one of 67 repossession applications that came before Clare county registrar, Pat Wallace yesterday, requiring a special sitting of his court.

Nine financial institutions are involved in the 67 applications and the woman, who did not wish to be named, recalled receiving the letter from AIB last November.

“I panicked and hid the bank’s repossession letter from my husband,” she said, speaking outside court No 3 at Ennis courthouse. The letter from the State-owned bank said it would be making an application to repossess their family home over the unpaid €60,000 from their mortgage.

Mr Wallace adjourned AIB’s application for repossession to July.

Speaking afterwards, the 55-year-old Clare father said: “Today has been nerve-wracking because we just don’t know the system.”

Earlier this week AIB wrote off €150,000 from a €400,000 loan on a family home and allowed the homeowners to keep their property.

Yesterday, David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders’ Association said the glut of cases coming before regional courts marked “a groundbreaking turning point” in the repossessions crisis.

Citing Central Bank figures which showed more than 3,100 repossession applications being launched by banks in the second half of last year, he warned: “This is the year of the repossessions.”

The Co Clare couple cannot afford a solicitor and have made an application for civil legal aid with waiting times now around nine months.

The man, who lost his job in 2009 and is now working on a community employment scheme, said: “We haven’t been able to make a payment on the mortgage in three years. We just haven’t had the money.

“I’m 55 now and I would be a very lucky man if a company employed me at my age. The biggest stress is week-to-week living. Some weeks we don’t have enough money for the shopping. Other weeks, we might have €25 at the end of the week if we are lucky because the kids, who are all still in school, always need something whether it is clothes or books.”

The couple have five children aged eight to 18.

The father said: “They don’t know about this here today, but they now know not to ask for money.”

The 42-year-old mother, who is qualified as a care assistant, said that her 12-year-old girl recently celebrated her Confirmation, but there wasn’t money to buy photographs from the day. On the day, the children’s grandmother paid for a meal as the parents didn’t have money for it.

The father said: “We are struggling. I don’t want anyone to be in our situation. We are on the breadline. Our lifestyle has changed massively ... but you have developers in Nama owing tens of millions and they are allowed large salaries by Nama and their lifestyle haven’t really changed.

“We are now engaging with the bank and we hope something can be sorted.”

The mother added: “I don’t hide bank letters from him anymore.”

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