Family homes in arrears fall 31% in 2 years

The number of households in arrears on mortgage payments on their homes has fallen by almost one third in less than two years, according to the latest data from the Department of Finance.

Family homes in arrears fall 31% in 2 years

However, there are still almost 30,000 principal dwelling house (PDH) mortgages with those lenders which are in arrears of greater than two years.

Overall, there were 82,271 PDH mortgages in arrears (all arrears past one day) at the end of April 2015 — a 1,976 decrease compared to March. That also marked a 23% decrease compared to the same point in April 2014 and a 31% decline from the 118,438 accounts which were in arrears in September 2013. There were 25,163 in arrears for less than 90 days and 57,108 for more than 90 days as of the end of April.

The department’s figures showed there were 611,420 PDH mortgages with no arrears at the end April — 1,641 more than in March.

That means 12% of all mortgages on primary homes in the country were in arrears at the point the figures were collated.

In all, mortgage accounts in arrears for more than 720 days, or two years, stood at 29,070 at end of April. The department confirmed that such accounts make up approximately 35% of all mortgages in arrears.

Earlier this month, the Free Legal Advice Centre pointed out that the average arrears on accounts which are two years behind in their payments is “very deep” at more than €52,000.

A total of 108,911 PDH accounts had been restructured at the time the figures were collated, the vast majority permanently.

The restructuring method most often used was arrears capitalisation, which featured in 29,246 cases. That is where the overall mortgage balance is increased by the arrears total and repayments are commenced once more. The next most availed of restructuring solution was split mortgages (22,658).

However, more than 40,000 PDH mortgages which are in arrears for more than 90 days have not been restructured.

The Department of Finance also released figures on buy-to-let (BTL) mortgages as of the end of April. At that point, the number of BTL accounts in arrears stood at 27,633, a decrease of 18% since April 2014.

There were 22,584 such accounts in arrears for more than 90 days, a 15% decrease since April 2014.

By the end of April, 19,453 BTL accounts in arrears had been restructured.

The six lenders which are the basis for the department’s figures account for 90% of the mortgage market. They are AIB, Bank of Ireland, PTSB, ACC, KBC Ireland, and Ulster Bank.

Last month, the Government announced new measures to deal with the mortgage arrears crisis.

Among them was an independent court review that would have the power to approve insolvency deals that have been rejected by banks. Under the new system, the courts could review and effectively overturn a bank veto. In announcing it, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said it was as far as she could go constitutionally.

The measures also included the extension of the mortgage-to-rent scheme to deal with as many of the mortgages that remained in arrears as possible.

It emerged at the joint Oireachtas committee on education and social protection earlier this week that extra funding had been approved for allocation to the Money Advice and Budgeting Service for new supports for people in mortgage arrears.

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