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Latest Announcements on Mortgage Arrears "underwhelming" Electioneering

A balance of prob


Over one hundred thousand home owners and hundreds of thousands of their family members awaited yesterday's government announcement regarding mortgage arrears with hopeful expectation. They had been waiting for and expecting the announcement of solutions to their home mortgage distress since the economic "crash" began in 2008 and yesterday was, according to government sources, to be that day. Instead, what was announced with fanfare was a half-hearted attempt to placate the dispossessed until after the next general election.

Examining the "changes" one by one, they amount to an extra adjournment or two for homeowners in the courts, an added few months of partial relief before what most financial advisors, Personal Insolvency Practitioners and solicitors will tell  the struggling home owner (after they've relieved them of their last few shillings) is the inevitable loss of home. Empowering Judges and Registrars to over-rule the bank’s veto on debt deals that they view as reasonable and fair is a toothless move as our experience from the courts tell us that what a member of the judiciary thinks is fair and reasonable still mean loss of home for most who do not have two, three or four properties to use in the negotiation game, and no Judge has nor will see it as meet and just that the bank allow a family stay in the mortgaged home to the material loss of the bank. It just won't happen because it is not, in the eyes of the law, fair and reasonable.

The Judicial veto in effect refers to Personal Insolvency Proposals, examinership of sorts where the home owner's assets are stripped from them, balanced against their "debt" and what's leftover the homeowners can have. It usually means loss of home as that's the only real asset the homeowner has. We expect that Judicially imposed "deals" for most will involve loss of home but the wiping of residual debt. It will also mean years of poverty for the compliant family with every red cent of income above the means threshold given to the bank. At review time the bank can pull the plug on the deal and one missed repayment means back to square one. That's personal insolvency for you and any other type of home mortgage deal that we have come across, including outrageous "split" mortgages being offered to some home owners at the moment.

Yesterday Government also announced that the role of MABS would be expanded but what does that actually mean? MABS currently advises people on how to budget better to meet the bills, and they assist home owners to complete financial statements and set up payment plans. Ultimately, when it comes to home mortgage arrears, all MABS can do, after the budgeting advice, is offer you more budgeting advice, but there's not much home owners have to budget when their purses are empty other than relay that advice on to the moths fluttering around in the said purse.

Addressing the mortgage-to-rent tag-on at the end of yesterday's announcements on home mortgage arrears, one must ask oneself if the Banks would be better landlords than mortgage debt collectors? Will a change of nominal status inculcate them with a deep sense of compassion and caring that was not there the day before? There has been some talk about Local Authorities becoming the landlords instead of the banks, another potential case of private banking responsibilities being thrust upon the shoulders of the public.

On a final note about the latest under-whelming announcements by Government regarding home mortgage arrears, a number of commentators and pundits with shameful sincerity flung their arms to the heavens yesterday asking "well what is the alternative?". They reasoned in a limited fashion that as some of the banks are government "owned" they can't take the loss. Those pundits are right, the government, in other words we the people (you wouldn't think it though) shouldn't take the loss, but the organisation that created the Euros (the credit line) in the first place, the steel cold men and women of the ECB, should take the perceived loss or hit. It was the ECB that ultimately facilitated the creation of all that credit during the 2000s, it was the ECB that forced the taxpayer to fund the banks losses, and in the end it will be the ECB that foots the bill rather than the Irish home owner. We in the National Land League will not rest until this comes to pass.

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