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Report on repossessions wants changes, but no legislative reform

An expert group on repossessions found that case management standards of different lenders varies greatly, “with some operating at sub-optimal level”.

Repossession order at Kennycourt Stud Farm County Kildare. (File photo)
Repossession order at Kennycourt Stud Farm County Kildare. (File photo)
Image: Eamon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

AN EXPERT GROUP report on repossessions has made a number of recommendations on changes to the system but has stopped short of calling for any legislative reform.

The group, whose membership included civil servants from various Government departments, the Central bank and the Courts Service, was established in September of last year in response to a commitment made with the Troika.

Its report was presented to the Troika before the end of last year but was today submitted to Government.

Published by the Department of Justice, it found that the case management standards of different lenders varies greatly, “with some operating at sub-optimal level”.

The report identifies a specific problem of some lenders not locating borrowers ahead of repossession proceedings:

It appears that in many cases, lenders have not sought to locate defaulting borrowers prior to the commencement of proceedings or even during the early period following such commencement.

The report has therefore called for a more structured framework in dealing with cases of repossession. It says that this would lead to greater efficiency and more consistent case management standards.

In particular, the report wants repossession documentation to be standardised across different lenders. In defended proceedings, it also wants harmonised documentation with a standard form and a statement of means to be completed by the borrower.

The expert group also wants lenders to adhere strictly to the rule which requires a lender’s representative to be physically present to formally identify property which is subject to an execution order.

Where a borrower has been co-operating with a lender, the group has recommended that the borrower be issued with a certification of compliance under the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears.

The publication of the report was noted at a Cabinet briefing today with a government spokesperson describing the recommendations as “eminently sensible” and “worthy of consideration” by lenders and the courts and all other interested parties.

- Additional reporting by Hugh O’Connell

You can read the full report of the Expert Group on Repossessions here >

Read: New law removes legal gap preventing house repossessions >

Read: Banks brought 2,300 legal proceedings against mortgage holders in Q3 >

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Rónán Duffy

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