Over 550 mortgage holders in arrears in Offaly could be helped by to stay in their homes

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A meeting of the Offaly Housing Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) has been told that there is now a 'new reality' from banks and other lenders when it came to dealing with distressed mortgage holders.

Stephen Curtis, Head of Operations, at the mortgage to rent company, Home For Life, told the councillors that 576 mortgages in Offaly have been in arrears for more than two years but noted that those who qualified under the Mortgage To Rent Scheme could be helped stay in their homes under the government’s scheme.

He stated, "The government has prioritised solutions for families unable to pay back and we are finding that lenders now are engaging with the scheme as they realise it’s a good outcome because they find when they seek repossession orders that the courts are often unwilling to grant them.”

In his presentation to the council committee in Tullamore, Mr Curtis added, “Previously, there wasn’t a great awareness about
the scheme but that is now changing.” 

He agreed that it had not worked as well as it should have in the past but stressed that with new operators in the field, there was now a greater dynamism around individual cases.

“In our time operating since last autumn, we have reduced the timeline in dealing with all documentation and agencies so that a case can be completed within six months where before that it was taking twice or three times as long,” he explained.

Figures from the Central Bank’s Long-Term Mortgage Arrears in Ireland Report (Q3 2018) state that 576 households in Offaly
are in mortgage arrears for over two years.

Cllr John Leahy said mortgage to rent was a great scheme. He said it could provide a solution for many people and he would
be very happy to push it forward to help people in stressed situations. “It is badly needed,” he said.

The Chairman of the Committee, Cllr Declan Harvey, said it was important for people to know that their arrears would be part of the mortgage to rent agreement package that they ended up with.

Cllr Peter Ormond said it was a pity that the income threshold was pitched so low as he knew 10 people who could avail of a
mortgage to rent solution if the bands were higher.

Cllr Noel Cribbin questioned the eligibility for houses in Offaly, which he was informed was up to €280,000. He said it was a
'no brainer' for people in mortgage trouble who fitted inside the limit to pursue such a course of action.