Fianna Fáil has repeated its call for the government to move swiftly to introduce legislation to protect mortgage holders whose mortgages have been sold to unregulated entities. 

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Finance, Deputy Michael McGrath stated, “The news today that Investec has sold Start Mortgages to private equity firm Lone Star highlights once again the need for legislation to protect vulnerable mortgage holders. Fianna Fáil had been to the fore in highlighting this issue and has introduced legislation designed to resolve the problem. 

“Prior to the deal announced today relating to Start Mortgages, the Minister for Finance estimated that up to 10,000 mortgage holders have had their mortgage sold to an unregulated entity. These mortgage holders are in a vulnerable position as they fall outside the statutory Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA) and lose access to the Financial Services Ombudsman. Voluntary compliance with the CCMA is simply not good enough since it cannot be policed in any way. In my view, mortgage holders in arrears are particularly vulnerable if their mortgage has been sold to an unregulated fund. 

“The government initially promised legislation to deal with the issue in 2015 but subsequently agreed to bring it forward earlier. Now that the Department of Finance’s public consultation on the issue has been concluded, the legislation needs to be accelerated. On the resumption of the Dáil this week, I will again be pressing the government to urgently bring forward legislation to address this issue. It is not acceptable that we have two different standards of protection for mortgage holders in Ireland depending on who may have bought their mortgage as part of a bundle of loans. 

“This issue also highlights the failure to get to grips with the problem of arrears in the sub-prime sector. The most recent figures I received indicated that of a total subprime mortgage book of €3.316 billion, accounts amounting to a staggering €1.88 billion are in arrears of over 90 days. Despite this, the Minister has confirmed that the mortgage arrears targets programme has still not been extended to subprime mortgages. One in every four home repossessions since the beginning of 2012 relates to subprime mortgages.  The simple truth is that the Government has shown scant regard for the 18,000 subprime mortgage holders – many of whom are now in real danger of losing their family home.”