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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Repossession orders increased by over 20% in 2015

Legal sources say numbers would have been even greater if not for conflicting judgments

The number of repossession orders granted last year increased more than 20 per cent compared with 2014, the latest figures show. 

The number of repossession orders granted last year increased more than 20 per cent compared with 2014, the latest figures show.
A total of 1,284 orders for repossession were granted in the State’s 26 circuit courts last year, up from 1,063 in 2014.

At the same time the number of applications by banks to repossess homes fell almost 40 per cent from 8,164 in 2014 to 5,021 last year.
Of the orders granted last year, 918 were for primary homes with 366 for buy-to-lets or other dwellings.

The data from the Courts Service shows the highest number of orders – 170 – was granted in Cork, of which 123 were for primary homes and 47 for other dwellings.
This compares with a total of 84 orders granted in Cork in 2014.
Some 160 orders were granted in Dublin last year – down from 253 in 2014 – of which 113 were for primary homes and 47 for buy-to-lets or others.

In Wexford 80 orders were granted last year, 40 for primary homes. In Tipperary, 77 orders were granted, 65 for primary homes.
There were 72 orders granted in both Laois and Louth with 58 granted in Meath and 57 in Wicklow.

The fewest repossession orders were granted in Longford where there were 10 – four for primary homes – followed by Sligo where there were 11, three for primary homes.
Though the numbers increased last year, legal and industry sources say increases would have been greater had it not been for conflicting High Court judgments at the end of last year which saw thousands of repossession cases, particularly affecting buy-to-lets, adjourned or withdrawn.

Thousands of cases will be re-entered later this year once the Court of Appeal clarifies the matter. The cases will be heard “later this year,” say sources.

Confusion centres on the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court to hear certain repossession cases.
In May 2015 Ms Justice Murphy ruled the Circuit Court did not have jurisdiction to hear a case concerning a primary home, but in November Mr Justice Séamus Noonan ruled the Circuit Court had the authority to hear a similar case involving a buy-to-let.

Both cases concerned the “rateability” of the dwellings due to their age, the time when the mortgage was drawn down and the time-frame in which repossession proceedings were initiated.

A property must have a “rateable” value to come within the jurisdiction of the court.
A significant number of repossession cases had already been either adjourned following the May judgment while lenders reassessed their options, or had been struck out as lenders went back to reissue proceedings.
The November judgment caused further confusion, particularly in the repossession of buy-to-lets.

One lawyer described the case on its way to the Court of Appeal, as being of “national importance”.
The impact of the confusion can be seen in the figures. Just 210 orders – or 16 per cent of last year’s total – were granted in the last three months of 2015.

This compares with 419 orders in the last quarter of 2014, which is some 39 per cent of the year’s total.

Kitty Holland