A decade after the crash, and with 1 in 10 mortgages in arrears, Ireland continues to have the highest level 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 Abusive Lending Practices Project is a joint project of The Open Society Justice Initiative and The Open Society Initiative for Europe. It is delivered in collaboration with legal, human rights and NGO partners in Ireland, namely the Centre for Housing law, Rights and Policy, NUI Galway and CAN. It has several activities with the overall goal of ensuring that Ireland enforces the EU requirements that courts assess mortgage contract terms for fairness and uphold human rights in possession cases. These EU requirements are contained in two pieces of EU legislation: The Unfair Contract Terms Directive and the EU Charter of Fundamental Human Rights. Details of how these laws can be used to protect borrowers are outlined in Your EU Consumer and Human Rights: A Guide for People in Mortgage Distress in Ireland. For further information, go to abusivelending.org. 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.
CAN has produced two videos on this topic – click the thumbnail to view:
CAN’s role is to build a movement of people affected by mortgage distress. This will include identifying a leadership group from within the current project, working with them to break the silence on their lived experience and in so doing to extract stories and messages that can be used to tackle the shame and isolation of people in mortgage distress. Working with this group to analyse the complex interconnection between personal, cultural, economic and political factors that impact on their lived experience will help them transform their stories from the individual to the collective. In this way, they can begin to see the link to human rights, power map duty bearers and plan a more integrated, proactive and comprehensive campaign of action. In so doing we hope to change the dominant narrative in relation to mortgage distress. Working closely with the PR / communications consultant, the facilitators / lay advocates can begin to powerfully engage with the public in a variety of ways to humanize their experience and attempt to build a more empathetic environment where they can exercise more influence on the urgency for applying EU consumer and human rights law.