Fianna Fáil has today outlined an extensive action plan to support families in meeting their monthly mortgage payment. This includes measures relating to rip-off mortgage rates and the ongoing problem of mortgage arrears and repossessions.
Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath commented: “Concerns about mortgage rates and the protection people enjoy if they fall in to difficulty are widespread. Fianna Fáil believes it is vital that there is a strong legislative underpinning for a bank’s relationship with its customers, backed up with enforceable Central Bank codes of conduct.
“Across a range of issues, Fine Gael and Labour have failed to take the necessary actions to protect mortgage holders. They strengthened the ability of banks to obtain a repossession order for a family home while refusing to end the scandal of rip-off interest rates. Up to 1,600 homes were repossessed in 2015.
“Over 300,000 households are paying rates that are double the European average for equivalent mortgages. This is costing families hundreds of euro a month. The margin earned by banks on variable rate loans has grown dramatically as their cost of funds has fallen.
“The banks response to widespread concern on this issue has been totally inadequate. Despite the fact that variable rates in Ireland are more than 2% higher than the euro area average, most banks have offered little more than reductions in their fixed rates.
“Similarly those in mortgage arrears have largely been abandoned. While many restructurings have been put in place, most have not been genuine long term solutions.
“Comprehensive action is required to ensure that homeowners paying variable interest rates are not ripped off, those falling into arrears have access to long-term sustainable solutions rather than facing repossession and ensure existing borrowers are treated on the same basis as new customers.
“Fianna Fáil in government will:
- End the scandal of the variable interest rate rip-off.
- Provide sustainable solutions to those in mortgage arrears or facing repossession.
- Ensure that mortgage holders can switch easily between lenders to guarantee they always benefit from the lowest rate available.
- Protect borrowers from vulture funds.
- Allow customers more time to make complaints to the Financial Services Ombudsman regarding the sale of mortgage and other financial products.
- Ensure existing borrowers are treated on the same basis as new customers.
- Retain the Mortgage Interest Relief Scheme to 2020.
- Empower Credit Unions to offer mortgages.