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Nearly 50,000 residential mortgages in arrears of three months or more

However, the Central Bank says new measures to make mortgage lenders help customers make more manageable arrangements for repayments are in force.

THE CENTRAL BANK has released some sobering statistics about the battle mortgage-holders are fighting to pay their home loans.

A release from the Central Bank shows that 6.3 per cent of all private residential mortgages are in arrears for more than 90 days. The figures – which show the state of the mortgage market at the end of March this year – state that there were 782,429 private residential mortgages in Ireland at that time. Of those, 46,609 accounts were in arrears for 90 days or more – and that constitutes €9.6 billion of debt. This was up from 44,508 mortgages in arrears of over 90 days at the end of December 2010 (or a .6 per cent jump).

However, overall mortgage debt outstanding for private residential mortgages decreased by €725.6m since the fourth quarter of 2010. The report also found that:

  • A total of 62,936 residential mortgages had been ‘restructured’ at the end of March 2011 – of these, 36,662 were not in arrears and repayments were being made as per the restructured agreement. The rest of the accounts – some 26,274 – have arrears both less than and more than 90 days.
  • Of the 46,609 accounts in arrears at the end of March 2011, 35,341 of these were in arrears of more than 180 days/six months. A total of €7bn is owed in these accounts.
  • There has been a 14.6 per cent increase of formal demands issued by lenders outstanding at the end of March 2011 (6,658), compared to 5,812 outstanding at the end of December 2010.
  • During the first quarter of 2011, mortgage lenders began court proceedings against mortgage holders in 175 cases. This is a decrease of 41.1 per cent on the number of proceedings started in the last quarter of 2010.

The Central Bank’s Director of Consumer Protection, Bernard Sheridan, said that householders struggling with mortgages should contact their lender as soon as possible because the Central Bank’s revised Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears, requiring lenders to help facilitate a manageable repayment rate. He added:

Mortgage lenders must work with their customers to help them through their difficulties and, where appropriate, agree a manageable and sustainable solution. The continued increase in restructuring arrangements shows that more borrowers are availing of the benefits and protections offered to them through our revised mortgage arrears rules, which came into effect in January and with which lenders must comply.