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Call for increased consumer rights for mortgage holders- Cllr Sarah Holland

7 May, 2015 - by Sarah Holland

Sinn Féin Cllr Sarah Holland has today called on the Government to do more to protect the family home.

Cllr Holland said:

“Ulster Bank is the first to look at how its debt recovery procedures affect people, and has set the bar for how to deal with borrowers in mortgage distress.

The response to the mortgage arrears problem has so far been notably poor - from the lenders themselves, from the Central Bank and from the successive pro-austerity Governments of Fianna Fail/Greens and Fine Gael/Labour.

The Central Bank of Ireland produced a Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears in 2013, which broadly outlined how lenders should treat borrowers facing mortgage arrears.  The guidelines, however, allowed lenders too much leeway.”

 Cllr Holland continued:

“They should have imposed caps on what interest could be charged over the base rate and they allowed banks themselves to determine when a borrower was “not co-operating”, therefore allowing extra charges.

We see case after case of borrowers being hounded for money which they simply did not have.

I spoke to one engineer who had been made redundant and could not get another job – shortly thereafter his wife fell ill and they had to try to survive on benefits.  His bank did make an arrangement with them for prepayment, but it was one in which they had to skip meals and their children had to do without good winter coats and shoes.

Borrowers were afforded no protection, and the spread of interest taken by banks compared to the base rate is unadulterated greed.

I find it extremely worrying that repossession orders have risen by 500% compared to the same period last year, 383 of which were for primary homes.

It is time for the banks to be called out on their lack of ethics, and for the Government to start calling the shots.

Minister Noonan needs to get tough – each of these numbers represents a family.  It’s all very well celebrating profit, but we need to look at the human cost of that”

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