New rules on mortgage arrears will make it easier for banks to repossess family homes, according to Roscommon Cllr Rachel Doherty.
Cllr Doherty has expressed grave concerns about the Revised Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears published last week, which gives banks even more powers over people in debt.
“These rules are extremely worrying for families who are crippled by debt. Not only will it be easier for banks to secure home repossession orders and to move people off tracker mortgages, the banks will also be allowed to make unlimited calls to distressed borrowers, pressurising them to pay up,” the Fianna Fáil Councillor explained.
“We know that the banks cannot be trusted to conduct themselves in a professional and fair manner with borrowers in difficulty. But instead of ensuring that the banks play ball, the government has gone in the complete opposite direction by giving them even more control. The result is that the banks are firmly in the driving seat and mortgage holders in Roscommon and across the country are completely at their mercy.
“Removing the limit on banks’ contact with distressed borrowers is a dangerous move. I’ve spoken to many local families who are in serious financial difficulty and are seriously worried about their bank using debt collectors to get them to pay up. Debt collectors are totally unregulated in this country and unfortunately we know that as well as legitimate agencies, there are unscrupulous operators who use intimidation and threats to force borrowers to pay.
“My party published proposals last month to impose tough regulations on debt collectors. I am appealing to the government to consider these carefully, particularly in light of these new mortgage rules.
“What this plan lacks is any independent oversight to ensure that the best interests of mortgage holders are represented. I am repeating my call for the establishment of an independent Debt Settlement Office to ensure that distressed borrowers are treated fairly and are given a decent chance of moving on with their lives.
“It’s about time that the government started acting in the interests of mortgage holders and stopped just dancing to the banks’ tune,” said Cllr Doherty.