A new, user-friendly guide, that legal experts have launched, could help thousands of Irish families in mortgage distress and facing unfair evictions.
The guide aims to help people to understand and advocate for their rights using vital EU consumer and human rights law. It is also essential reading for people improperly denied tracker mortgages or those who have been given incorrect interest calculations.
The guide, called Your EU Consumer and Human Rights: A Guide for People in Mortgage Distress in Ireland, is available free on http://abusivelending.org
Thousands of homes are at risk of possession throughout the country, including many in Munster. In fact, with one in 10 mortgages are in arrears, Ireland continues to have one of the highest levels of mortgage defaults in the world.
Central Bank of Ireland statistics at September 2017 show that over 72,000 mortgages are in arrears. A massive 44% (over 31,000) of these are in arrears for over two years, putting them at far greater risk of mortgage repossession.
The laws outlined in the guide oblige Irish courts to assess the fairness of mortgage terms under the EU Unfair Contract Terms Directive. They should also assess the human rights impact of an eviction on all occupants in the home – including children, older people and people with disabilities – under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
These EU requirements are not new. To date, however, they are not being fully applied in Irish courts, according to the Irish and international legal experts behind the guide.
The authors have stressed that the guide is for information purposes only. It does not provide legal advice, and is not a substitute for consulting a lawyer. They suggest, within the guide, that people share it with their solicitors.
They also acknowledge, however, that a high number of people facing possession are unrepresented, due to the shortage of free and low cost legal services.
In tandem with the publication of the guide, a group of facilitators from across the country will be available to help promote the guide to people in mortgage distress and to service agencies who may be working with them. They will help people understand the information in the guide, but will not provide legal advice or representation.
The guide also contains practical advice on how to find a solicitor, an outline to the Abhaile Scheme and Personal Insolvency Arrangements, and other vital resources for people in mortgage distress.
Finally, it contains sample template pleadings, for information purposes only.
The Guide has been created as part of the Open Society Foundations’ Abusive Lending Practices Project, in conjunction with the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy, NUI Galway and a group of Irish lawyers and advocates.
The Open Society Foundations launched the Abusive Lending Practices Project in 2015 out of concern for the substantial number of people in Europe suffering under debt burdens that threaten their ability to satisfy their basic needs.