Belfast Telegraph

Mortgage arrears figures revealed

More than 55,000 mortgages are now in arrears for more than three months, the latest figures reveal.

The number of homeowners falling behind in their repayments has jumped from 49,609 at the end of March to 55,763 at the end of June.

A Central Bank report shows that more than 7% of all mortgages in the state are in arrears for more than 90 days. There has also been a rise in the number of mortgages that have been "restructured" to help homeowners meet their repayments, up almost 7,000 from March to 69,837 just three months later.

The Central Bank said more than half of these - 39,395 - were not in arrears and mortgage holders were making the repayments as agreed under the new arrangement.

But more than a third of those on restructured mortgages, almost 26,000, are paying off the interest only.

The report by the Central Bank also reveals that lenders took legal action against more than 200 mortgage holders who were in arrears between March and June. While the courts granted repossession orders during the same three-month period for 124 homes.

Also, more than 170 properties were seized by lenders during that time, 54 of them on repossession orders and 119 following voluntary surrender or abandonment. Repossessions were up from 140 on the previous three-month period.

At the end of June, financial institutions had more than 800 repossessed properties in their control.

The Central Bank's director of consumer protection Bernard Sheridan has appealed to those struggling with mortgage repayments, or who fear they may fall into difficulty, to make contact with their lender as early as possible.

Jack O'Connor, general president of trade union Siptu, said the continuing rise of numbers who cannot make their mortgage repayments needs urgent and decisive action from the Government, adding: "As a first step it should declare clearly and unequivocally that no-one who is doing their best to make payments will ever lose their home."

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