Belfast Telegraph

70,000-plus mortgages in arrears

Beleaguered householders are giving up on mortgage repayments and walking away from their homes at a rate of one every day in Ireland, according to a report.

Latest figures reveal more than 70,000 home loans have now slipped into arrears with nearly 75,000 mortgages restructured to help borrowers cope with their financial burden.

The Central Bank report shows almost one in every 10 home-owners has fallen at least three months behind in their repayments. Opposition parties have accused the Government of crippling inaction over the crisis which is taking its toll on tens of thousands families across the country.

Some 133 properties were repossessed by lenders between last September and the end of the year, the figures show. Fifty of those were seized on foot of court orders.

The remaining 83 homes were either voluntarily surrendered or abandoned - representing one borrower putting their keys through the letterbox and walking away from their home every day. But the Central Bank said the total number of repossessions during the three-month period was down 18% - from 162 properties - compared with the previous three months.

The New Beginning organisation - which helps those in mortgage arrears and debt distress - said the figures prove the problem is getting worse. "The real concern remains the almost complete absence of medium and long-term solutions to this huge social and economic problem," said spokesman David Hall.

"It is to be hoped that the new personal insolvency legislation, currently before the Oireachtas, will begin a process where society can finally begin to address the crisis.

"This will involve the lenders recognising their culpability and being willing to take their fair share of the pain involved in putting in place realistic and long-term solutions."

Some 70,911 private residential mortgages - out of a total 768,917 in Ireland - had lapsed into arrears of 90 days or more by the end of last year, the figures confirm.

That represents a jump of around 8,000 from just three months earlier at the end of September. Repayment plans for 74,379 mortgages were restructured - up almost 7% over the same period.

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