A MAYO senator has questioned the Ulster Bank over a number of home repossession cases in the county.
Speaking at an Oireachtas committee, Senator Rose Conway-Walsh said she was in the repossession courts in Castlebar in recent weeks where there were approximately 140 repossession cases, quite a number of which involved Ulster Bank.
She stated: “People had received letters from the vulture fund saying it now owned their mortgage. This is frightening the life out of people and, in many cases, frightening people out of their homes. Can Ulster Bank tell me how many family homes, in particular, were sold off to vulture funds to date?
In response, Andrew Blair, head of the bank's consumer debt solutions, said the bank undertook a series of portfolio sales.
He elaborated: “The vast majority of those portfolio sales involved commercial real estate and small and medium-sized enterprise customers. We have conducted two sales: one in 2015 and one in 2016. Each of those sales is subject to a confidentiality agreement, so we will not talk about price or the value of those sales.
“However, I can say, and we made this public at the time of the latter of the two sales in 2016, that that sale involved just fewer than 900 people and the family home. Of those customers, 95% of them were more than two years in arrears and 88% were more than three years in arrears. They were deep in the litigation process and non-co-operating.
“That is the basis on which we elected to include them in the sale. Where customers will come and talk to us, our primary goal is to keep them in their homes. We do not want to see people leaving their homes. That remains our goal and intent.
“However, for that to happen, we need to be able to talk to the customer and the customer needs to talk to us. We also need to be able to determine the customers' capability to meet the commitments under their mortgage or make suitable arrangements that will enable them to remain in their homes and make payments on their mortgage which will be sustainable in the long term.
"In this particular case, we do not intend to dispose of customers who are co-operating or are engaged with us and who are in low levels of arrears and trying to make satisfactory arrangements with us.”