Banks now seeking to repossess 1,000 properties a month

Banks are applying to the courts to repossess almost 1,000 homes a month, new figures show.

he figures show there has been a 10-fold rise in the number of repossession proceedings being issued in the courts by all the banks since 2013.

And most of the applications are for family homes.

There were 11,500 applications made by all the banks to the courts for repossessions last year, figures supplied by the banks to the Central Bank show.

This is a much higher figure than those reported by the Courts Service for repossession applications in circuit courts around the country.

Experts said the figure supplied by the banks to its regulator was a more accurate figure. Some of the applications may have been missed when Courts Service data was being compiled, the experts said.

For the three-month period up to last December, more than 2,500 applications were made by banks to repossess properties. This is 10 times higher than the level of applications at the start of 2013, figures complied from Central Bank data by both UCC lecturer Seamus Coffey and Free Legal Advice Centre’s (FLAC) Paul Joyce show.

Mr Joyce, who is senior policy analyst with FLAC, said: “The State’s own figures show that the number of repossession applications on family homes is rising inexorably, and will continue to do so as lenders deal with those cases where arrears difficulty has become more entrenched.”

He said Central Bank figures indicating almost 38,000 households have been in mortgage arrears for more than two years show the extent of the problem.

There needs to be free independent financial and legal advice for those at risk of losing their homes; an independent State body, such as the Insolvency Service, tasked with assessing if mortgages are sustainable; and a radical expansion of the mortgage-to-rent scheme.

This is where a housing charity buys the family home at current market values where families can no longer afford the mortgage. The bank writes off any residual debt owed.

The family can choose to rent it from the charity, with a local authority providing rent support.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said: “What the figures show is the banks using the courts to get people to engage with them who haven’t engaged.

“The Government position is we don’t see repossession as a solution and we don’t want repossession to be a solution.”

He said thousands of mortgages were being restructured by the banks every month.

Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesman Michael McGrath accused the Government of being paralysed on the issue.

“The Government seems to be totally paralysed in the face of a very aggressive stepping-up of legal actions on the part of the banks.”

Source- Irish Independent

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