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Dublin: 5 °C Tuesday 22 October, 2019
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'Mary' is recovering from cancer and her mortgage - in €29k arrears - has been sold to a vulture fund

‘Mary’ has been out of work since her cancer diagnosis. She had no idea her mortgage was to be sold to a vulture fund.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

‘MARY’ IS IN her 50s, she is divorced, she is recovering from cancer and her mortgage with PTSB has just been sold to a vulture fund.

Earlier this month, PTSB confirmed it has sold its controversial Project Glas loan portfolio to an affiliate of the so-called vulture fund Lone Star for around €1.3 billion.

The portfolio contains 10,700 home loans, which the bank has dubbed as “non-performing loans”.

A total of 7,400 are owner-occupier mortgages, while 3,300 are buy-to-let properties.

The sale to Start Mortgages – Lone Star’s affiliate – has been widely criticised by the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation, Fianna Fáil and Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross.

Since then, Ulster Bank has sold 5,200 mortgages to US firm Cerberus, in a move that critics equate to throwing people ”to the wolves”. One of the main concerns is over the lack of regulation.

Many of the so-called vulture funds are international pension and equity funds which are not regulated in Ireland. Subsidiaries or third-party fund managers, who are regulated to do business in Ireland, manage loan books on behalf of the vulture fund.

Questions have now been raised about the type of mortgage-holders who find themselves sold to vulture funds.

The bank and government narrative goes that only “non-performing” loans are sold in the bundle. However, politicians are questioning such statements, saying their offices have been inundated with calls from concerned constituents.

While some are in arrears, other are not. There are also those who were in the middle of doing deals with the banks only to find their loans sold off days or weeks later.

The Department of Finance has stated that is has assurances from Start Mortgages that deals made with PTSB will be honoured.

Previously, the minister stated that he is “conscious” that some customers that have restructured their mortgages with their bank may need to engage with the new lender.

The person behind the figures 

‘Mary’ (who wishes to remain anonymous) is one of the thousands of people who have been told that PTSB sold their loans.

“I can’t believe this has happened to me. My nerves are gone and I don’t need this worry. I am afraid the cancer will come back due to all the stress of this,” she told TheJournal.ie.

Mary said she doesn’t have any dealings with her husband, but lives in her home with her two grown-up children. They have lived in the same house for the past 32 years.

“I want to ask them why they did this to me, because I have all the letters and phone calls to show that I was engaging with them,” she said.

Mary had a lumpectomy in 2012 but the cancer returned in 2015 and she had to have a mastectomy.

“I have only been recovering properly from the treatment since last year. I am still in agony and pain, and now this is making it worse,” said Mary.

“In 2010, I was working up until then. I was working and paying the mortgage and then I was forced out of work when I fell ill,” she explained, adding that the message being portrayed in the media is that people who have been sold on are in large-scale arrears.

“That’s not the case, it certainly isn’t for me,” said Mary.

“Altogether, I owed Permanent TSB €29,000,” she told TheJournal.ie, explaining that she was in arrears with her payments.

She owes €21,000 on her mortgage and another €8,000 on a loan, which she said she got on the back of her mortgage to do up the house a number of years ago.

“I made a deal with PTSB last November, where they put me on interest-only payments for 17 months. I went to a solicitor with this proposal for some help, and I thought all was grand.”

In May, Mary said she was asked to sign more papers, adding that the payments were to be fixed at a low amount for an extended fixed period.

This was over the phone and I was told that I would get the papers sent out to me. Then I got this letter last Friday to say my mortgage had been sold to Start Mortgages.
My nerves are gone. I have been into them [PTSB], I have been in contact, we had a deal done. I have it in black and white, so they can’t say I wasn’t engaging.

Other than the letter telling her the mortgage has been sold to a vulture fund, Mary hasn’t heard from the bank she has been banking with for over 30 years.

I was their customer for a long time and I haven’t heard anything. They didn’t even tell me when we were discussing the latest deal and payments that there was a possibility they would sell me off to a vulture fund. Nothing was flagged or mentioned to me.
I am afraid. I don’t want to move anywhere else. I don’t know if this new crowd will stick with the deal. I signed papers for that agreement, are they now allowed to back out on it, is that allowed?

Mary said she is now worried for her children who live with her.

“They keep saying ‘Ma, don’t worry about it, it won’t happen, we won’t lose the house’. But they are oblivious. They don’t understand. I can’t fix this. This isn’t something I can solve myself. I can’t do this on my own,” she said.

“Sure there isn’t even a hope of my grown up children buying their own home the way things are now,” she added.

Mary said she wants to stay in her home as it is close to the hospital where she gets treatment.

“I am not going to lose my home for €29,000 – where am I going to go. I want to keep a roof over my head. I don’t know how many years I have left, but I know one thing. I don’t trust anyone anymore. Not the banks, not the politicians. Look what they have done to me.

“It is great for them, the politicians, jetting here and there. Who cares? All they do is talk and talk but they don’t actually do anything.”

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