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Dáil to debate Sinn Féin legislation to protect family home

10 April, 2014 - by Pearse Doherty TD


The Dáil will be debating Sinn Féin’s Land and Conveyancing Reform (Amendment) Bill 2013 tomorrow which, if enacted, would substantially enhance legal protections for pressurised mortgage holders and make it harder for the banks to repossess homes.

Sinn Féin’s Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD said:

“Last July the government had signed into law the Land and Conveyancing Reform Act which removed the legal protection of the Family Home. This move essentially opened the door to more repossession and left already vulnerable families at even further risk.

“Sinn Féin opposed the Bill and warned of its consequences. Our bill would put in place a realistic and solid legal protection from repossession for struggling homeowners who are making a real effort to repay their mortgage.

“This week the Finance Committee heard that the main four banks have issued 30,034 letters, relating to repossessions and voluntary surrenders.

“The Family Home needs extra protection. This Bill is a step in that direction.

“Let us remember that the people of this state paid for the banking bailout that led to the collapse of the economy, the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and unprecedented levels of emigration.

“I welcome the strong endorsement from the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation and New Beginnings for the Bill.

“It is time for the government to start protecting families at risk of homelessness and I urge Fine Gael and Labour to accept this Bill.”

Notes to editor:

The Land and Conveyancing Reform (Amendment) Bill 2013 will:
•Level the playing field between banks and homeowners by making the repossession of the Family Home a less attractive option for banks
•Increase to six months from two the length of time the court can adjourn a case to allow for the Personal Insolvency process take place.
•Empower a judge to force parties to engage in an insolvency process and to force the banks to cover the costs
•Make it compulsory for Courts to consider if the lender has complied with the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears which will be put on a clear legal basis for the first time
•Empower the Courts to perform a “reasonableness test” on whether the banks have really exhausted all other possible options including whether they declined any proposal from a Personal Insolvency Practitioner and complied with the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears.
•Before any repossession is ordered the Court must be satisfied that an arrangement is in force to deal with the residual debt
•In the event of repossession a family must be given a six month period to arrange their affairs or nine months if they have children
•Make the vulture funds who have taken over some loan books have to comply by the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears if they are seeking repossession

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Support from groups which work with Mortgage Holders:

New Beginning supports and welcomes Sinn Fein and Deputy Pearse Doherty's Land and Conveyancing Law Reform (Amendment) Bill 2013.

Ross Maguire of New Beginning said:

"This bill gives the Courts extra power and responsibility in home repossession cases. In particular it does 2 things: it mandates the Court to be satisfied that all efforts have been made at resolution through the MARP process or the Personal Insolvency Process before agreeing to repossession. This would constitute a substantial safeguard for families struggling with debt. Secondly it forces the banks, before repossession is granted, to deal with the negative equity through debt write off. Again this would constitute a great improvement in the current system and would allow people to move on with their lives - free of debt.

New Beginning is also aware of a growing tendency for banks to sell home mortgages to vulture funds.

Ross Maguire said:

"This bill gives protection to all borrowers regardless of the lender. It will mean that borrowers whose loans have been sold to vulture funds are equally protected and that is to be greatly welcomed."

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The Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation strongly endorse and support the contents of the proposed Bill entitled Land and Conveyancing Bill being proposed by Deputy Pearse Doherty. This takes a humane and practical approach by attempting to rebalance the current imbalance that exits when banks move to repossess family homes. The proposed bill reflects our policies and it's adoption would be a significantly positive move to protect home owners who are facing repossession. Some homes will be repossessed and when this occurs there must be a mechanism to ensure that the residual debt is dealt with at the time, this bill also addresses this issue.

David Hall

Director

Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation

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