Written answers

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Department of Finance

Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears

Photo of Áine CollinsÁine Collins (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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177. To ask the Minister for Finance the options available for a couple in mortgage distress who have been working with the Irish Mortgage Holders Association for the past two years but who are unable to get a long-term payment plan. [39126/15]

Photo of Brendan GriffinBrendan Griffin (Kerry South, Fine Gael)
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192. To ask the Minister for Finance his views on the treatment of mortgage holders who are in arrears to lenders who persistently correspond, call and pressurise customers, even though the customers have repayment agreements in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39517/15]

Photo of Michael NoonanMichael Noonan (Minister, Department of Finance; Limerick City, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 177 and 192 together.

The Deputy will be aware that it is not appropriate for me to intervene directly in a dispute between an individual borrower and any financial institution.  Having said that, the CCMA provides a strong consumer protection framework to ensure that each borrower who is struggling to keep up mortgage repayments is treated in a timely, transparent and fair manner.  Consumers, and the Central Bank of Ireland (the 'Central Bank'), must have confidence that lenders will act in the best interests of consumers and that they will treat them fairly and with dignity and respect.

The essence of the CCMA framework is to ensure that borrowers in arrears are treated fairly by their lenders.  It contains requirements around communications by lenders with borrowers, including that communications must not be aggressive, intimidating or harassing and that borrowers must be given sufficient time to complete an action they have committed to before follow-up communication is attempted.

Furthermore, under the Central Bank's Consumer Protection Code (the Code) all regulated entities must have a written procedure in place for the handling of complaints by consumers.  If a borrower is dissatisfied with the way they have been treated by their lender, they should submit a formal complaint in writing to the institution.   If the borrower remains dissatisfied with the outcome of the complaint investigation he/she may refer the issue to the Financial Services Ombudsman (FSO), a statutory officer who deals independently with unresolved complaints from consumers about their individual dealings with all regulated financial service providers.  

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