Ask The Expert: Week 10 Show Notes - Best Bits

Personal Insolvency Practitioner’s and MABS staff cover a variety of topics on week 10 of our Ask the Expert series. Listed below are questions taken from each interview. If you’d like to hear more of a specific interview, scroll to the bottom of the page where the full recordings are listed for playback.

Is Abhaile only available to those who earn a high income?

Claire Kelly on Q102:

“No - the Abhaile scheme is available to anybody as long as their home is under threat, i.e. if their mortgage is in arrears, the banks are threating repossession, or they're asking for the home to be surrendered. To be eligible for the scheme , your property must not be oversized for your needs. For example, if you have four people living in a house, and it's a three or four-bedroom house, you're not oversized. If you're a couple living in a ten-bedroom mansion, then that will be considered oversized relative to what you need for a living space. There is no cost to the borrowers who take part in the Abhaile scheme. You don't need money to start off. You don't need money to get a protective certificate as long as you qualify and you're in home mortgage arrears.”

Does it help your lender and the Court if you use MABS, rather than trying to go alone to reach an arrangement?

James Morgan on LMFM:

“Yes - not only do MABS take away the stress of going alone, but they have the expertise that any one individual does not have in this situation. Abhaile is now on a statutory footing because of the Land and Conveyancing Act. It would be considered when the courts are deciding how a person has dealt with their loan. If you think about it logically, Abhaile and MABS are free. As mentioned before, they have the time and expertise. It's wise to go in and chat with about your situation. There is assistance provided in the courts through the Court Mentor too.”

If you have received a court summons from your lender, watch our video on Court tips.

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What should someone do if they are separated but, have found out their mortgage is in arrears because their ex-partner was hiding it?

Rosalenn Ward on C103:

“They need to contact their mortgage lender, particularly if their names are joint on the account. They would have to explain what has happened and that they are trying to take control of the situation. That's where the Money Adviser or the Dedicated Mortgage Arrears (DMA) Adviser can work with you as what we call a 'separated borrower'. Come in, sit down, see what your options are. Depending on the level of arrears or the stage of legal proceedings, there is still time.

But the most important thing is to engage and let the mortgage lender know. Make an appointment with MABS and move forward. The worst thing you can do is let something sit, and you hope it'll go away because it won't. The problem will get bigger. There is help. We're 100% free. We're locally based in offices all around the country. Come in and explain the scenario. Try and take back some control and make payments in line with affordability.”

What is the difference between a Debt Relief Notice (DRN), a Debt Settlement Arrangement (DSA) and a Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA)?

Louise O’Brien on WLR:

“Those three arrangements were introduced into legislation and the only difference is the amount of money that's involved. For a DRN you must owe less than €35,000 and have limited assets. For example, if you own a property or land, it will exclude you from that particular arrangement. It involves limited debts, limited assets and limited income.

The DSA is a step up, you can only have unsecured debt. You can have unlimited debt, but it has to be unsecured. A mortgage wouldn't fall into that category.

The PIA includes both your secured and your unsecured debt. Secure debt being the likes of a mortgage, or maybe even a higher purchase on a car. Then an unsecured debt would be your credit loan or your bank loan.”

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Finding a resolution to mortgage arrears is all about borrowers engaging with the available services?

Tara Cheevers on GBFM:

“All I do is try to encourage people to avail of the services available through Abhaile. Borrowers can work with MABS staff themselves or, they can be provided with vouchers to see Personal Insolvency Practitioners (PIP) , Accountants and Consultation Solicitors. The most important thing is to come forward and engage.

Borrowers should not be concerned and worried about the fact people might see them going to a PIP or going into a MABS office. There are thousands and thousands of people in Ireland who are in debt - who cares? What matters is going in and getting help; that's my attitude. The most important thing is to sort yourself out and get back on your feet. Get back on track and be able to live and again, as opposed to always be worrying about the mortgage arrears.”

Is it fair borrowers in mortgage arrears get debt write down when others struggle to get by but pay their mortgage?

Claire Kelly on Q102:

“I can totally understand that feeling. But, we don't know the details of every individual case. We don't know the details of what can be seen from the outside isn’t necessarily what’s happening on the inside. I guess the question that comes up is how long should you be punished for the past? Most people intentionally, don't fall into this position, and they do want to do their best and, they do want to sort things out.

Ultimately, if nothing can be sorted out if people continue not to pay, it does catch up with them, and repossession orders do get granted, and they do get enforced. But if you're in a position whereby things can be restructured, you should always have that opportunity. The first port of call is the MABS Helpline, the phone number for that is 076107 2000. From there, you can see a way forward.

If it is unfair, if the creditors are right, and they have a point, then the courts are there. Ultimately a judge will make the final decision as to what's reasonable under the legislation, what’s allowed by law. It's not a one-sided situation. If there is a situation whereby for some reason, something doesn't quite stack up. The banks can object and say, hang on, this isn't fair. The courts will give them the fair hearing, and they will decide in that respect.”

Information Sources:

Galway Bay FM - Galway Talks with Keith Finnegan Episode 10 (11th September 2019)

WLR FM - Déise Today with Damien Tiernan Episode 10 (17th September 2019)

LMFM - The 11 – 1 Show with Sinead Brassil Episode 10 (2nd October 2019)

Dublin’s Q102 – Mornings with Liam and Venetia Episode 10 (9th October 2019)

C103 - Cork Today with Patricia Messenger Episode 10 (14th October 2019)

If you or someone you know is affected by some of the topics raised in the above discussion, call the MABS dedicated Helpline on 0761 07 2000, or visit mabs.ie/contact to find your local office and to learn more about how Abhaile may help.