01 Oct 2022

New figures show over 200 Longford mortgages in arrears for 'at least five years'

More than 250 households in Longford are in mortgage arrears for over two years with over 75 per cent of those in arrears for at least five years, new figures show.

Data compiled by the Central Bank’s Long-Term Mortgage Arrears in Ireland Report found approximately 260 mortgages to be in arrears for over two years, over 200 of which have been in arrears for at least five years.

ALSO READ: Longford-Westmeath TD aims to tackle repossession blues

In a further insight into the scale of the repayment problem facing mortgage holders, figures from the Department of Housing show that only one household in the county has availed of the Government’s Mortgage To Rent scheme.

A Government-approved mortgage to rent provider Home For Life (HFL) is spearheading a drive to enable mortgage holders in unsustainable debt to stay in their current homes debt-free as long-term tenants of their local authority.

HFL say that there is a strong possibility that they can come up with a solution in many cases of serious mortgage arrears.

The company works with homeowners, lenders and the local authority to keep unsustainable mortgage holders in their current homes, avoiding upheaval for families.

Under the scheme, a property is sold to Home For Life and then leased back to the State through the local authority which, in turn, sublets the house or apartment back to the homeowner. The homeowner pays an affordable income-based rent to their local authority.

As part of the scheme in Longford, the local authority would then undertake to provide for the ongoing long-term housing needs of the applicant and other eligible residents of the property for as long as their housing need exists.

“I was surprised to find that of the 260 cases in Longford, only one had found a solution through mortgage to rent,” said Home For Life CEO Paul Cunningham.

“This may be due to the fact that councillors, community leaders and advisors were unaware up to now that the Government’s Mortgage to Rent Scheme was a real deliverable solution for homeowners whose mortgages are unsustainable and are at most acute risk of losing their homes.”

According to Mr. Cunningham, the biggest challenge in the old Mortgage To Rent scheme up to recently was the delays in getting individual cases over the line.

“However, we have now reduced the timeline in dealing with all documentation and agencies so that a case can be completed normally within six months,” he said.

HFL works with all banks and funds and can facilitate properties irrespective of location or condition.

At a HFL advisory board meeting this week, Fr Peter McVerry said he was “all in favour” of any initiative that keeps people in their homes.

“I fully support projects that help to resolve the incredible amount of mortgage arrears and stop people becoming homeless,” said Fr McVerry.

Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Housing and Urban Development Damien English described the emergence of Home For Life into the market as “a significant step towards a scaling of Mortgage to Rent to meet the needs of more borrowers in mortgage distress.”  

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