Fianna Fáil has today published its Mortgage Resolution Bill 2013. The Bill is an opportunity to redress the balance of power between the banks and citizens following a series of new measures introduced by Fine Gael and Labour, which effectively give the banks a veto in negotiations with people struggling with debt. Highlights of the Bill, developed by Deputy Michael McGrath, Senator Thomas Byrne and colleagues include:
– Removal of the Bank Veto from the Personal Insolvency Act.
– Establishment of an independent Mortgage Resolution Office under the Insolvency Service with the authority to provide binding Mortgage Resolution Orders.
These Orders can include the following measures:
· a split mortgage where part of the loan is parked for up to 10 years;
· interest only payments for up to 4 years;
· extending the period of the mortgage by up to 20 years;
· a repayment holiday for up to 12 months;
· an adjustment to the interest rate;
· a debt for equity swap;
· participation in the deferred interest scheme; and
· in the event of voluntary surrender, that the financial institution lease the family home to the borrower at a market rent.
Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath commented, “One of the biggest barriers to growth and recovery in Ireland is the number of families and communities struggling under the weight of unsustainable mortgage debt. Legislators have a responsibility to come forward with a response to this crisis which does not put the banks in control.
“Unfortunately, the Government’s only response to date has been to hand the banks a veto in negotiations through Alan Shatter’s Personal Insolvency Bill and then to give the banks even further control through the ‘Mortgage Arrears Resolution Targets Programme’ announced on 13th March. This Bankers’ Charter now removes important protections for homeowners and moves the threat of repossession centre stage.
“Fianna Fáil believes that keeping people in their family home makes for good social policy, and also makes sound financial sense.
“Our bill offers practical and urgent assistance to those in mortgage difficulty. It proposes setting up an independent Mortgage Resolution Office under the Insolvency Service with the authority to provide actual settlements. This is the action that people want to see happen.
“It improves the Personal Insolvency Act in that it removes the power of veto which the Government built in to the legislation, effectively putting the banks in the driving seat.
“A Mortgage Resolution Order effectively acts as a binding arrangement between a borrower and the Financial Institution. Such an Order would only be granted if the financially restricted borrower is the owner of the mortgaged property, has resided in that property for the two years prior to making the application, has provided written confirmation that they will not sell or lease the property, and has not previously been granted a Mortgage Resolution Order.
“The Mortgage Resolution Order process will ensure that all distressed mortgage-holders are dealt with in a consistent manner by an independent office. The Order will be binding and gives the borrower the certainty and space required to work through their financial difficulties so that they can retain their family home.
“We believe that there is a fairer way to recovery and that our plans on restoring balance to the relationship between banks and their customers could and should be an important step in that process.”