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Mortgage Arrears Crisis in Buy-to-Let Properties Threatening Tenants’ Family Homes – Threshold

21 April 2014

Housing charity outlines how tenants must be protected when landlords’ properties enter receivership

 

Thousands of families living in the private rented sector are facing severe housing problems because of the mortgage arrears crisis amongst ‘buy-to-let’ landlords.  That’s according to Threshold, the national housing charity, which today (21.04.14) published a submission it has made to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform on the topic of buy-to-let mortgage arrears.

 

According to Threshold, buy-to-let receiverships are, increasingly, threatening the family homes of tenants. 

 

Commenting today, Bob Jordan, Chief Executive of the charity, said: “Since the beginning of 2013, there has been a significant increase in the numbers of receivers appointed to landlords’ buy-to-let properties.  Up to 3,700 receiverships are currently in place over residential properties.

 

“The plight of tenants affected by this issue has been largely ignored.  Increasingly, they are being caught in the crossfire between financial institutions and landlords.  These are people who have made their homes in the private rented sector.  Now – through no fault of their own – they are having their rights as tenants undermined because the actions of receivers are not regulated and there is widespread confusion in relation to who has to respect tenants’ rights and how. 

 

“Some families are even facing the terrifying prospect of having to leave their homes as a result of this situation.”

 

According to Threshold’s submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee, the primary areas in which tenants’ rights are being undermined are: security of tenure, as safeguarded under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004; the right to have rental deposits returned ‘promptly’; and the right to live in accommodation that meets minimum required standards and to have repairs addressed.

 

In its submission, Threshold is seeking the support of the Committee in calling on the Minister for Finance, the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, and the individual lending institutions to introduce critical measures to protect the family homes of tenants and the overall private rented sector from the volatility generated by buy-to-let mortgage arrears.  The charity proposes the following critical measures to address the problems faced by tenants whose rented homes have been put into receivership:

 

  • Amend the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 to recognise the appointment of receivers and their right to collect rent in place of the landlord and, as a result, provide that receivers must ‘step into the shoes’ of the landlord and take on their obligations;
  • Introduce a code of conduct on buy-to-let mortgage arrears similar to the CCMA (code of conduct on mortgage arrears) for residential mortgages; and
  • Publish quarterly data on the scale of buy-to-let receiverships, the numbers of tenancies impacted or that may potentially be impacted, and the actions taken on behalf of lending institutions.

 

Speaking about Threshold’s submission, Senator Aideen Hayden, Chairperson of the charity, said: “The legacy of the Celtic Tiger and the reverberations of the property crash are now being felt by those who are losing buy-to-let properties due to receivership and bank repossessions, which many had gambled on by taking out a second mortgage to purchase.

 

“The measures outlined in our submission would safeguard the stability and sustainability of the private rented sector, eliminate confusion and bring greater certainty and stability to all parties involved.  We hope that our submission will also inform policy decisions in the future around the impact of receiverships and repossessions on the sector as a whole.

 

“Almost one in five families now live in private rented accommodation and this proportion is higher in our major cities, with a quarter of households in Dublin renting from a private landlord.  Unless this arrears crisis amongst buy-to-let landlords is promptly resolved through appropriate provisions and measures, we will see the poorest households effectively forced out of their homes and in some cases on to the streets.”

 For more information, and to read the full text of Threshold’s submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee, go to: http://www.threshold.ie/publications/threshold-submission-to-joc-on-finance-april-2014/