- What is Abhaile?
- What is the cost of receiving advice under the scheme?
- How does the service work / what is different about it?
- What experts are available and how are they assigned?
- What is the first step for a person to find support?
- How does an applicant qualify for the Scheme?
- What comes next after a person qualifies?
- Who is providing these experts?
- Who are the MABS advisers?
- How can these allocated experts help a borrower?
- What type of advice is offered?
- How long will the vouchers last?
- How to apply for the Scheme?
What is Abhaile?
Abhaile - Free Mortgage Arrears Support, offers borrowers who are at risk of losing their homes the opportunity to deal with their mortgage arrears through the help of a comprehensive range of expert supports. MABS acts as the gateway to providing this service and is the first port of call for the debtor in mortgage arrears.
The aim of the scheme is to help mortgage holders in arrears to find the best solutions and keep them wherever possible, in their own homes.
What is the cost of receiving advice under the scheme to the person in mortgage arrears?
The Scheme is 100% State funded. If you qualify for the Scheme, there is no charge for the borrower to use these services. All of the professional advisers working with the Scheme have agreed to provide a fixed amount of advice and help free of charge to people who meet the conditions.
How does the service work / what is different about it?
In addition to the dedicated mortgage arrears advice facility in the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), Abhaile – Free Mortgage Arrears Support, allows eligible borrowers to meet with an expert free of charge who can give further specialist advice on their case.
The scheme is designed to help borrowers who are insolvent and at risk of losing their homes, to get the help they need as quickly and effectively as possible. Advice is provided free of charge to eligible borrowers by way of a voucher scheme through MABS.
What experts are available and how are they assigned?
There are three panels of experts: Personal Insolvency Practitioners (PIPs), Solicitors and Accountants for specialised financial and legal advice. MABS will assess each individual case. They will refer the applicant on to the most suitable expert for advice by issuing them with a voucher for a consultation with that expert.
The professionals participating in the scheme are qualified and regulated and all have appropriate knowledge of mortgages, insolvency, bankruptcy and repossession. They have each agreed to provide borrowers with independent advice and help under the Scheme, free of charge to the borrower. The borrower can choose a PIP, solicitor or accountant from the scheme panel, subject to availability.
What is the first step for a person to find support?
Firstly, to receive any support under the scheme, a borrower must apply to the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS). This can be done in person at your local MABS office by appointment or by calling 0761 07 2000 – the MABS dedicated helpline.
How does an applicant qualify for the Scheme?
A borrower must meet all four of the following conditions to qualify under the scheme.
- In mortgage arrears on their home.
- Insolvent (as defined under the Personal Insolvency Act 2012). This means that someone is unable to pay their debts in full as they fall due. MABS or a PIP will be able to help work this out.
- At risk of losing their home under arrears.
- ‘Reasonably accommodated’ – The costs of continuing to live in the same home are not disproportionately expensive, bearing in mind a person’s reasonable accommodation needs and those of their dependents, and the costs of alternative accommodation.
Anyone who is not sure if they qualify should contact the MABS helpline.
A MABS adviser or a PIP will be able to determine if an applicant meets these conditions.
What comes next after a person qualifies?
If accepted, MABS may direct a borrower to a PIP, an accountant or a solicitor by issuing them with a voucher.
A PIP from the panel can also help with applications to the scheme, by going through MABS.
Who is providing these experts?
Three bodies have worked with MABS to set up panels of professional advisers with experience in mortgage arrears:
- The Insolvency Service of Ireland has set up a panel of personal insolvency practitioners (PIPs).
- The Legal Aid Board has set up a panel of solicitors.
- The Citizens’ Information Board is currently setting up a panel of accountants.
Who are the MABS advisers?
MABS has put in place a network of Dedicated Mortgage Arrears (DMA) advisers, who are located in MABS offices around the country and act as the first port of call for an applicant to the scheme. These DMA advisers are able to provide a high level of independent expert advice to people in difficulty with mortgage arrears.
How can these allocated experts help a borrower?
Financial Advice: The scheme can provide a face-to-face meeting with an expert financial adviser. The expert adviser could be a MABS dedicated mortgage arrears (DMA) adviser, a Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP) or an accountant.
Legal Advice: A borrower in arrears can have a face-to-face to meeting with a solicitor, who will outline the legal situation and any options to resolve it. If facing repossession proceedings on a home, a Duty Solicitor will be available at the court. The Duty Solicitor may be able to speak on the client’s behalf in court.
What type of advice is offered?
Five services are available under the scheme. MABS will direct users to the most relevant service.
The PIP Service:
Experts in debt advice and personal insolvency solutions, PIPs can consider people’s options under insolvency and give advice on bankruptcy. By carrying out a full assessment of a person’s financial situation, options can be explored and written advice issued suggesting the best option available to deal with mortgage arrears. A PIP will prepare an individual’s ‘Prescribed Financial Statement’ (PFS) in order to do this.
The Accountant Service:
To receive free advice from an accountant under the scheme, work must be completed with a MABS Adviser and a Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process Standard Financial Statement (MARP SFS) created. The accountant will need a copy of this statement to issue financial advice. This voucher entitles a person to a face-to-face consultation with an accountant from the panel.
The Consultation Solicitor Service:
Should a case raise legal issues, a borrower’s advisor may recommend also consulting a solicitor from the scheme panel. The financial adviser may apply to MABS for a legal advice voucher. This voucher entitles an individual to a face-to-face consultation with a solicitor, who can explain the legal situation, and advise on any legal issues relating to mortgage arrears.
If an individual has been served with notification of repossession proceedings, the consultation solicitor may, in some circumstances, be able to assist in finding a solution without going to court.
The Duty Solicitor Service:
A borrower facing Circuit Court repossession proceedings against their home due to mortgage arrears may receive help at Court from the Duty Solicitor.
The Duty Solicitor will normally be on duty at a Circuit Court on the date where the Court is due to deal with repossession cases. They may be able to speak for the borrower in Court, to explain what steps they are taking to try and deal with their mortgage arrears, and may be able to apply for the proceedings to be adjourned, if the borrower is trying to put a solution in place.
However, the Duty Solicitor cannot act as the borrower’s legal aid solicitor, or defend the proceedings on their behalf, as this is not covered by the scheme. The scheme does not cover legal aid for defending repossession proceedings.
In some circumstances, he or she may be able to assist in finding a solution without going to court.
The Personal Insolvency Court Review Service:
The borrower will only need this service if they have already worked with a PIP, have proposed a Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA) to their creditors, and the creditors have refused that proposal although the borrower’s PIP considers it fair and reasonable to all concerned.
Under section 115A of the Personal Insolvency Acts, a borrower in this situation can ask the Courts to review the PIA proposal. If the Court agrees that the proposal is overall fair and reasonable, it has the power to impose the proposal on the creditors.
Under the Personal Insolvency Court Review Service, the Legal Aid Board (www.legalaidboard.ie) agrees to provide legal representation by a solicitor and barrister to make the Court review application, as part of their Civil Legal Aid service.
How long will the vouchers last?
Vouchers should be used as soon as possible, and not later than 3 months after the date of issue. Applicants should bring the voucher with them when meeting their financial or legal adviser.
How to apply for the Scheme?
To apply, contact MABS (0761 07 2000, Monday-Friday 9am – 8pm) or your local MABS office.