There are almost 600 distressed mortgage holders in Laois, with over 455 of them in long term arrears.
Latest figures from the Central Bank’s Long-Term Mortgage Arrears in Ireland Report state that 591 households in Laois are in mortgage arrears for over two years while over 455 of those have been in arrears for at least five years.
There are about 10,300 owner occupied mortgages homes in Laois.
Figures from the Department of Housing show that only 13 households in the county availed of the Government’s Mortgage To Rent scheme.
The numbers have been highlighted this week by Home For Life, a Government-approved mortgage to rent provider, which is offering to buy houses from mortgage holders who have found themselves in unsustainable debt.
The company would then lease the properties to Laois County Council, with the owner staying on in the house and becoming a long-term tenant of the council, paying an affordable income-based rent.
As part of the scheme in Laois, 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 591 cases in Laois, only 13 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.” the company chief said.
He said that 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.
The company has said that at a Home For Life advisory board meeting this week, homeless campaigner Fr Peter McVerry said he was 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.
Last July, the Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Housing and Urban Development Damien English welcomed the emergence of Home For Life into the government's Mortgage to Rent scheme.
He said the Mortgage to Rent scheme is “a significant step towards a scaling of Mortgage to Rent to meet the needs of more borrowers in mortgage distress.”