Shopkeeper claims fund used 'extraordinarily aggressive tactics' to force refinancing or sale of shop

A shopkeeper claims a fund which took over her mortgage is using "extraordinarily aggressive tactics" to force her to refinance or else sell the shop through a receiver, writes Ann O'Loughlin.

Shopkeeper claims fund used 'extraordinarily aggressive tactics' to force refinancing or sale of shop

A shopkeeper claims a fund which took over her mortgage is using "extraordinarily aggressive tactics" to force her to refinance or else sell the shop through a receiver, writes Ann O'Loughlin.

Linda Fitzpatrick (aged 48) has operated "La Belle", a small local store on the Quinsboro Road, Bray, Co Wicklow, for 10 years and worked in it for most of her adult life, the High Court heard.

Despite being up to date with her mortgage payments of €850 per month, she says Pentire Property Finance appointed Ken Tyrrell as receiver over the shop.

Mr Tyrell's agents turned up at the store in early May and left after being asked to go, but Ms Fitzpatrick was concerned they would return.

As a result, she brought an application for an injunction against Pentire and Mr Tyrell restraining the receiver from interfering with her business or attempting to sell the shop.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan was satisfied to grant a temporary injunction after hearing on the ex-parte (one side only represented) application from Bernard Dunleavy SC, for Ms Fitzpatrick, and reading papers in the case.

He said the matter could return to court in mid-June.

In an affidavit, Ms Fitzpatrick says she had a €325,000 20-year commercial loan secured on the shop with Bank of Scotland since 2006.

In 2012, Bank of Scotland amended the terms of that facility allowing her repay interest and part-capital at €850 per month.

The loan now stands at €270,000 and the shop is worth around €180,000, she says.

While the varied agreement expired in November 2013, Bank of Scotland continued to operate it and she kept up to date with payments.

In April 2015, Bank of Scotland sold the loan to Pentire.

The €850 p.m. arrangement continued and, she says, a Pentire representative told her the agreement would be amended to reflect the "rolling nature" of the restructured loan.

There were some difficulties related to her three repayments via her direct debit but she says she missed no repayments in all this time.

On April 15 last, Pentire wrote to her threatening the appointment of a receiver unless she immediately paid off the €270,000.

She now fears the property will be advertised for sale unless the receiver and Pentire are restrained from doing so.

She says this, and the latest demand for €263,000, "appear to be consistent with the extraordinarily aggressive tactics" of Pentire and "bear no reality to the actual position".

Pentire had claimed her loan is in default but there had been no change in the manner of repayments since 2013. There was no evident basis for this suggestion, she says.

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