Help needed for council loan scheme

A Portlaoise Councillor is pleading review the Shared Ownership Loans run by county hall after he learned of a case of a family that owes more than double what their home is worth.

A Portlaoise Councillor is pleading review the Shared Ownership Loans run by county hall after he learned of a case of a family that owes more than double what their home is worth.

The Shared Ownership Scheme was run by county councils for people who could not afford to buy their entire home, It has since been closed to new applicants.

Councillor Willie Aird told last week’s council meeting of one person who had purchased their house, on the shared ownership scheme in 2006, taking out a loan of €190,000.

“They have been paying that loan for the last seven years and that person now owes just over €187,000. They would only get €70,000 or €75,000 if they sold the house now,” he said.

Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald said they could not stand by and watch people suffer.

While Cllr Alan Hand said the situation needed some kind of action.

“People in their 20’s and 30’s, their lives are finished before they’ve even began. “

Cllr Ray Cribbin said he was also aware of someone affected by this.
“The council’s part of the loan just goes up and up. It’s breaking his heart to have to pay,” he said.

Head of Finance, Gerry Murphy said he was part of a special committee, set up to look at this problem.

“Between 1991 and 2010, there were 16,500 loans issued, just 4,457 loans still remain so the scheme was successful in the early stages.”

Mr Murphy said the problems arose from 2002 - 2005, when house prices were inflated.

He said the housing agency had produced a report on the scheme and they were looking at options, but it would be month or two before they would have a decision on how to proceed.