Laois fifth highest in mortgage arrears

Laois County Council have the fifth highest level of mortgages in arrears in the country.

Laois County Council have the fifth highest level of mortgages in arrears in the country.

The latest figures cover the second quarter of 2013, and indicates that there were over 20,000 live housing loans on the books of the local authorities, nationally.

There are 600 bad loans in Laois. Of these, in Laois 300 were in arrears over 90 days or more, compared with 105 in neighbouring Offaly. Laois had 62 loans between 90 days and six months in arrears. While similar counties such as Longford had just 28 loans in arrears for the same period. The remaining borrowers, 238, had not made repayments in more than 180 days.

Earlier this year, Laois County Council said it was owed more than €1 m in bad debt from mortgages on homes bought from the council during the boom.

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley is calling for Government assistance for people with long term arrears with Local Authority Mortgages including shared ownerships.

“All the debate to date is centred round the mortgage arrears in financial institutions while ignoring a growing time bomb in local authority housing loan arrears.

“With the exception of Dublin and Cork which have large populations, Laois has more accounts in arrears of between three and six months than any other county in Ireland. This poses a serious financial problem for Laois County Council as well as the home owners and the problem cannot be ignored any longer,” he said.

The Laois/Offaly TD said that almost half of those who are in shared ownership loans are also behind in their mortgage payments and the number of home repossessions by councils is increasing sharply across the country.

Deputy Stanley said the government could use the property tax to help those in arrears, rather than handing it over to Irish Water.

He said: “Having spent billions of euros in taxpayer’s money bailing out the banks and bondholders, it’s time the Government bailed out struggling Irish citizens to help them stay in their homes.

“They would be better advised to use the Local Property Tax to help those with local authority mortgage arrears than handing it over to Irish Water to raise further taxes next year which will put further financial pressure on struggling homeowners

At the July meeting of Laois County Council, a council spokesperson said they had no plans for any write downs, but they were engaging in a process which included allowing people to alter their mortgage repayments or to pay interest only for a period of time.