‘Banks don’t need permission to sell houses to vulture funds’

The Government has distanced itself from the sale of tens of thousands of homes to vulture funds.

‘Banks don’t need permission to sell houses to vulture funds’

It claims that banks do not need the consent of the finance minister to offload properties.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has told the Dáil that Permanent TSB has been forced to sell 20,000 homes to vulture funds, as its non-performing loan ratio is one of the highest in the eurozone.

PTSB, which is 75% owned by the State, is moving to sell a €4bn portfolio of distressed loans.

But yesterday, Mr Coveney told the Dáil that the sale of any house would not affect the contractual rights of homeowners.

“In any loan sale, it is important to highlight that the contractual terms, between borrowers and lenders, still apply.

"Mortgage-holders still have the same rights, regardless of who owns the loan book,” he told the Dáil

Responding to Fianna Fáil TD, Dara Calleary, who said the sale of PTSB loans would triple the number of family home loans held by unregulated vulture funds, Mr Coveney said that, as of last June, 28% of PTSB’s loans were non-performing.

“Given the volume of borrowers who have not engaged with the bank in recent years, and the number of cases where treatments were not possible or have failed, the bank has said that achieving an acceptable non-performing loan ratio will not be possible without some form of loan sales.”

He added that under the terms of the relationship framework with the bank, loan sales do not require the minister for finance’s consent, but said the bank would be required to consult with the minister and would do so “in due course”.

Mr Calleary said the loans would be sold at less than their actual value to vulture funds, but the borrowers would still have to pay “every cent of the loan, plus interest”.

He warned that vulture funds were impossible to engage with, as they did not have branches.

“They rely on anonymous call centres, which may not even be based in the State, to deal with customers. They are aggressive in dealing with borrowers and their families.

"They are aggressive to the point of causing considerable mental and physical stress to the people involved. They get away with it.

"They get away with that aggression, because there is no regulation. They are accountable to nobody,” he told the Dáil.

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