Judge rules bank entitled to repossess home despite not agreeing 'more sensible' terms

A couple have no legal defence to an order for repossession of their home by Permanent TSB over default on mortgage payments, a High Court judge has ruled.

Judge rules bank entitled to repossess home despite not agreeing 'more sensible' terms

By Ann O'Loughlin

A couple have no legal defence to an order for repossession of their home by Permanent TSB over default on mortgage payments, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Michael White said he was putting a six-month stay on the possession order to allow Eric and Sharon Mallon consider entering the insolvency process.

He was critical of PTSB for failing to consider a long-term “sensible” arrangement with the couple.

He also said they had failed to face up to their insolvency and he was urging them to get “good advice from a Personal Insolvency Practitioner.

This would be preferable to relying on others who had told them to advance 30-40 points in their High Court case which were “just nonsense”, the judge told Sharon Mallon, representing herself.

The couple, of Trinity Cottage, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, had appealed against a July 2015 Circuit Court order granting PTSB possession of their home.

They had initially borrowed some €150,000 from Irish Life and Permanent plc, PTSB’s predecessor in title.

The judge noted they executed a deed of charge in April 2003 which covered all present and future advances to them and acknowledged they were bound by a mortgage condition which provided the total debt shall become immediately payable to Permanent TSB if there was default in making two monthly mortgage repayments.

In 2007, the couple sought, obtained and accepted a further loan facility for €212,000, repayable over 20 years via monthly instalments of €1,470 with a variable rate of 5.6%. That offer was to pay off two credit union loans and three loans with PTSB, including the original mortgage. That loan was also secured on their Mullingar property.

The judge said the couple were consistently in breach of the terms of their contract with PTSB since June 2011, a period of some six years.

He had no jurisdiction to decide if PTSB acted unfairly by not agreeing to more favourable terms for the couple, he said.

He said the bank did operate the code of conduct on mortgage arrears.

He accepted the offers made by PTSB were “narrow in focus” by just allowing reduced monthly payments over short periods and it never agreed to longer term restructuring or “more sensible long-term relief”.

The couple also never faced the reality they were insolvent and unable to meet their debt responsibilities, he also said.

Arising from arrears, the bank ultimately sought and secured a possession order from the Circuit Court in July 2015.

In his judgment dismissing the couple’s appeal over that order, Mr Justice White noted the mortgage arrears in November 2016 were some €79,000. The appellants had raised no ground of appeal entitling the High Court to set aside that order, he ruled.

After his judgment, Ms Mallon told the court the couple had tried to contact PTSB’s legal department to try and have talks with a view to resolving the situation.

The judge said he was critical in his judgment of PTSB but he must implement the law and had no jurisdiction to make comments concerning fairness or otherwise.

While he considered a long-term arrangement was what was required, the bank did not want to do that, he said. In the circumstances, he told Ms Mallon he was urging her to get good advice and not advice from people telling her to advance 30-40 points which were “just nonsense”.

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