Banks repossess four homes a day
Banks are seizing four homes every day across Ireland, latest figures reveal.
During the first three months of this year, 351 houses were repossessed by lenders after homeowners were forced to walk away from the property or ordered by the courts to give it up.
The figure relates only to houses classed as someone's main home, and does not include more than 200 investment or buy-to-let properties also repossessed by financial institutions during the same period.
Also from January to March this year, banks launched legal actions against another 2,788 homeowners struggling with arrears in an attempt to force them to pay up or hand over the house.
More than 1,000 other cases were finalised in the courts at the same time, with repossession orders being granted to lenders for an additional 468 homes.
The new figures from the Central Bank show various banks in Ireland currently have 1,588 repossessed homes on their books they are awaiting to dispose of or sell off.
Of the 351 homes repossessed between January and March, 156 were on the back of court orders sought by the banks.
Almost 200 families or individuals chose to walk away from their home at the start of the year.
The Central Bank report also shows more than 100,000 homeowners remain in mortgage arrears in Ireland.
Of the 104,693 (nearly 14% of all mortgages) who are falling behind in their repayments, 74,395 were in arrears for over 90 days. That translates as one in 10 mortgage holders who haven't made a repayment in more than three months.
Although the overall number continues to fall, the number of homeowners in arrears for more than two years is still rising.
Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath said the latest figures reveal an alarming escalation in the loss of family homes.
"There is still considerable doubt about the quality of (mortgage) restructurings that are being offered to families - many of these are little more than a sticking plaster solution," he said.
"Innovative arrangements such as split mortgages are only being offered in a small number of cases.
"There is a continuing need for a complete culture change on the part of the banks in how they deal with customers and an independent mortgage resolution process to ensure that fair treatment is given to families."
Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said: "These figures never fail to shock.
"Almost four family homes a day are now being lost to the banks.
"The Government has promised action but, as these figures show, for many it is far too late."