Wednesday, March 13, 2013

13/3/2013: IMHO press release on CBofI Mortgages Plan

Here is the IMHO press release on today's Central Bank announcement relating to mortgages arrears resolution. This sums up my views and views I agree with.

Press release

March 13th, 2013

Government and Central Bank mortgage plan throws borrowers to the wolves, says Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation

Todays announcement that the Central Bank of Ireland will set targets for six major banks in relation to restructuring of mortgages in arrears is a sad extension of the failed policies of the past that have allowed Irish mortgages crisis to spin out of control and have resulted in total mortgages arrears of unprecedented proportions.

The latest plan lacks any prescriptive solutions and allows banks to determine the nature, the extent and the application of all solutions while setting the terms and conditions with out any supervision. The plan delivers no improvement in transparency of solutions to be offered to borrowers by the lenders and provides no protection for borrowers against potential abuses by the lenders of their powers.

While the review of the code of conduct is to be welcomed the review fails to deliver a meaningful improvement to the previous practices and does not allow for an effective protections for borrowers.

Mr Elderfield's statement claiming that the regulator intends to remove the current cap on number of times a bank is allowed to contact or call or visit a borrower ahead of the review of the code of conduct is very concerning. In our view, the central bank is underestimating the extent to which the banks are willing to go to pressure borrowers. It also pre-empts the actual review of the code of conduct for mortgage arrears..

The borrower is exposed and has been afforded no protection in this plan. The lenders are incentivized to maximize the rate of extraction of savings and income from the already distressed borrowers prior to completion of any long-term forbearance or restructuring agreements, thus reducing the effective relief that can be accorded the borrower in the end.

The net effect of this plan will be additional stress on mortgage holders and more power to banks without an appropriate safety net or independent arbitration for mortgage holders.

The Irish mortgages crisis, now into its sixth year, is still raging beyond any control of the authorities. Per latest figures from the Central Bank of Ireland, 186,785 mortgages (including BTL) in Ireland are at risk (in arrears, restructured or in repossession), accounting for an unprecedented 25.3% of all mortgage accounts still outstanding. The balance of mortgages at risk,  relative to the total balance of all mortgages outstanding has reached a catastrophic figure of 31.9%. With some 650,000-750,000 estimated people residing in the households with the principal residence in mortgages difficulties, we are witnessing a wholesale destruction of savings, pensions and wealth of several generations of Irish people.

State response to this crisis to-date has been woefully inadequate and erring on the side of the financial institutions. Todays announcement offers no hope for any meaningful change in the ways Irish authorities treat ordinary borrowers in distress.

For further information contact:

David Hall


Constantin Gurdgiev


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