Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

One in eight in mortgage arrears

The Central Bank said more than 180,000 mortgages are in arrears

Around one in eight households are in mortgage arrears, official figures have revealed.

The Central Bank found 95,554 private households were at least three months behind with their mortgage repayments in the first quarter of this year. The figure is up from the previous quarter when 92,349 private households were in mortgage distress of more than 90 days.

Finance organisations have warned that if banks do not act swiftly to help mortgage holders reach a sustainable solution for managing their debt, the figures will continue to spiral.

The Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation said the latest figures were evidence that a whole generation had been locked into "an endless battle of attrition" with the banks. Director David Hall said: "In order for those in debt to return to contributing to the economy we need effective, swift, fair and certain resolution of the household debt crisis."

Professional Insurance Brokers' Association chief operations officer Rachel Doyle said banks hold the key to helping ease the crisis.

"Unless a fair balance is struck between the interests of consumers who are in arrears with their mortgages and the banks, the financial crisis now over five years old will continue to drag on for years, to the detriment of everyone," she said.

The Central Bank will next week update its Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears. This will see a reduction in the moratorium placed on banks from starting repossession actions against homeowners. It will also allow banks more contact with borrowers.

The country's six main banks have until the end of June to reach targets set by the Central Bank to have proposed sustainable mortgage solutions for 20% of distressed borrowers.

According to the new figures, a total stock of 79,689 private households were categorised as restructured at the end of March. Over three-quarters of those were deemed to be meeting the terms of their arrangements.

The Central Bank said this means the borrower is, at a minimum, meeting the agreed monthly repayments according to the restructure agreement.

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