Posted: Wednesday November 10 2010, Blog Tags:
Yesterday in the Dail, The Taoiseach highlighted everything the Government has done to protect home-owners. At the same time Enda Kenny suggested that Fine Gael had tried to change NAMA legislation to provide more protection for those struggling with mortgages.
HOUSE REPOSSESSIONS remained low and the figure for those with mortgage difficulties was exaggerated, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said.
“Eighty-six homes were repossessed in the second quarter, of which 66 were abandonments or voluntary surrenders,” he said.
Mr Cowen said there had been a suggestion of negotiated repayment reductions or defaults in the case of at least 100,000 mortgages. “This overstates the situation significantly,” he added. “The figure is closer to 70,000, which includes restructured payments and the arrears figure of 36,000.”
Mr Cowen said the Government had already done much to support those in difficulty with mortgages, providing financial help to 17,700 families, increasing the advisory services and introducing a statutory code of conduct.
The six-month moratorium on legal proceedings had been extended to 12 months, and there was refocused mortgage interest relief for those who bought their homes at the market peak, with extensions up to the end of 2017.
A mortgage arrears and personal debt expert group had been set up, he added. “The Government’s objective, in both the social and economic policy point of view, is that homeowners who lose their jobs should be assisted to retain their homes during their period of unemployment,” he added.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said that at the end of June, the figure for mortgages in serious arrears was about 37,000. On Monday, he added, economist Morgan Kelly had reckoned that up to 100,000 mortgage-holders could be in serious difficulties in a short time. Fine Gael, he said, had attempted to amend the National Asset Management Agency legislation to allow for some facility for temporary relief among distressed mortgage holders.
The Government’s measures, said Mr Kenny, gave scant relief to those who knew they were facing a family or personal crisis in many cases. “Your predecessor said that if people complained about the housing market, they should commit suicide, for which he had to apologise,” he added.
In November 2007, Mr Cowen had said the fundamentals in the housing market remained strong, and he predicted a soft landing, said Mr Kenny, adding those who bought houses at the market’s peak faced a very bleak future in circumstances where they had lost their jobs.
Accusing Mr Kenny of engaging in rhetoric, the Taoiseach said while there were difficulties and problems, there were over one million mortgages in the State.
MICHAEL O'REGAN, Irish Times