FINE Gael Cork South West TD, Jim Daly, has said the way forward in resolving issues relating to mortgage arrears centres on better communication between banks and the borrowers who may find themselves in financial difficulty.
“If a sustainable path is to be set out in terms of addressing mortgage arrears, the first step has to be improving the communication between the borrower and the lender. With many people anxiously awaiting the passing of the new insolvency legislation due to be brought in to law in the Autumn, Banks are now willing to restructure loans without getting involved in the insolvency process which may leave them with less gain if that route is chosen by the borrower.
“If banks took a more measured approach to the situation and reassigned a greater number of dedicated staff to the area of dealing with distressed accounts, this would allow for borrowers to meet more easily with officers of authority within the Banks. The lines of communication would be opened up and a resolution could be mapped out going forward .
“When people receive notification letters from banks, many customers automatically put communicating with the bank on the long finger and avoid dealing with the issue. This is normal human nature but is unhelpful in resolving the problem.
“I accept that letters issued by banks have to be issued under the code of conduct rules to protect mortgage holders but am calling on all financial institutions to re-examine the wording and tone of letters they are sending customer so that they may be encouraged to address any issues they may have with their loan provider.
“There is an onus too on the borrower to engage fully with the banks when experiencing difficulty in paying their mortgage. I am aware of many cases in recent months with various financial institutions, who have negotiated new terms with both the Bank and Borrower happy with the result. I am satisfied that the Banks are committed to keeping all of their customers in their homes no matter how hopeless the situation may appear.
“I am strongly convinced that if people are open, honest and engage unequivocally with their lender, resolutions that are acceptable to all can be reached. The banks are equipped to deal with the restructuring of repayment terms for genuinely distressed households. They are also willing to work with customers where the repayment of loans are concerned for those who are currently out of work. I am urging all borrowers to make contact with their lender and to insist on a meeting with an official to agree a path to retaining a good relationship and more importantly their home,” he said.