Immediate action is needed to protect families at risk of losing their homes through repossession, following comments from the Master of the High Court, leading campaigners have urged.
Edmund Honohan, who has previously called on the Government to ‘nationalise’ repossessed homes and use them as social housing, said this week that thousands of repossession orders may be open to legal challenge owing to a failure to apply European law.
He argued that county registrars should not be dealing with repossession cases, noting in particular that consumers rights are being breached by failures to apply properly the 1993 EU directive on unfair contract terms in consumer contracts.
Welcoming these comments, Focus Ireland’s Mike Allen told The Irish Catholic there would be “huge consequences for the banks as well as for families” if Mr Honohan was correct in saying that “the entire process adopted for house and home repossession is actually flawed in European law”.
Pointing out that such repossessions could have knock-on effects on the many families who become homeless, not as former owner-occupiers but as tenants of buy-to-let landlords, he added, “there’s a whole range of things that are coming out about families who have lost their home because they were given the wrong tracker mortgage, things like that.
“Though people were blowing their whistles at the time, if it comes out a year or more later that in fact people were correctly warning that this was happening, it’s too late for those families, he said.
Mr Allen called on the leading barrister’s comments to be addressed as soon as possible, saying, “these are issues that need to be taken seriously at the moment that families are losing their home, because there’s no recompense that can be made in years to come for unfairly depriving someone of their home.”
William Prior, of the Portlaoise-based Phoenix Project, which offers advice and support to borrowers and homeowners in distress, agreed, saying, “really what the banks are doing is that they’re reneging on people and saying you’ve kept the house lovely and cosy for us, now let’s sell it and we’ll get the market value on it.
“As long as they get their money, it’s damn the rest of the people in the country,” he said.