Irish Times

High Court grants 72 possession orders in last eight weeks

SEVENTY-TWO orders for possession of property have been granted to mortgage lenders by the High Court in the last eight weeks, almost one-third of the entire number granted in 2008, figures show.

The orders, granted to mortgage lenders when borrowers fall behind with their repayments, are likely to reach record highs over the next year if the trend continues. Some 238 orders for possession were granted by the High Court for 2008 and in 2007, the figure was 109.

But between November 2nd and December 21st figures collated by The Irish Times show 72 orders were granted, almost one-third of the number granted in all of 2008. And at one sitting in November, 18 orders were granted, a record for a single session.

The number of applications before the High Court has also increased, from an average of 50 listed per chancery summonses session in the earlier part of the year to an average of 70 in the later weeks.

In the majority of cases in the last two months, the mortgages under scrutiny were taken out in 2007 and 2008.

Many borrowers did not appear in court and did not send legal representation on their behalf; some had legal representatives and some appeared on their own without the benefit of any legal advice.

The information collated shows that subprime lender Start Mortgages Ltd received by far the highest number of orders for possession. It had 25 applications granted and dominated most of the list of cases for hearing before the court, which sits every Monday during the legal term.

Stepstone Mortgage Funding Ltd was given eight orders, IIB Homeloans Ltd and GE Capital Woodchester Homeloans Ltd were given seven each, while Ulster Bank and Springboard Mortgages Ltd obtained four each.

The average mortgage arrears of those against whom orders for possession were granted was €32,500 and the average mortgage was just under €350,000.

Where stays or postponements of the orders were given, the average length was 15 weeks. Stays are usually granted to allow the borrower time to vacate their property and arrange alternative accommodation. Where properties were already vacant, stays were generally not granted.

Where orders for possession were given, even in cases of obvious hardship, costs were always awarded to the lender.

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