March 18, 2020
Mortgage payment breaks for affected customers must be extended to Vulture Funds – Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty has welcomed the joint plan adopted by the five main retail banks to support customers and businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, but has called for an immediate engagement from Government and the Central Bank with vulture funds and non-bank lenders to ensure the same reliefs are provided to all mortgage-holders.

Speaking today, the Donegal TD said:

“The joint plan adopted this afternoon by the five main retail banks is welcome news for mortgage-holders affected by the COVID-19 outbreak through job or income loss. 

“The five retail banks have confirmed they will provide a payment break of up to three months, with a view to extend as the current situation develops. This payment break will include mortgage repayments, personal loans and business loans. It is essential that clarity is given as to how this will effect interest on mortgages, personal and business loans during and after any payment break.

“This is welcome news for mortgage-holders and businesses who have been affected by this crisis. Last week I wrote to retail banks and the Central Bank requesting that these measures be implemented to protect personal customers and mortgage-holders during this crisis.

“I welcome the banks’ recognition that the application process for these measures must be as simple as possible to ensure relief can be accessed without delay. It is essential therefore that these measures are communicated through Government and commercial channels to ensure it is availed of.

“I also welcome the moves to ensure those who avail of these measures do not see their credit ratings adversely affected, and call on the Central Bank to move quickly to facilitate these arrangements.

“Today’s statement also makes clear that customers who have had their mortgages bought by vulture funds have not as yet been offered the same arrangements. That must be addressed immediately.

“I have been in contact with the Central Bank since the 10th of March to ensure that the same measures are extended to the vulture funds. 

“We need clarity as to what powers the Central Bank can employ to extend these measures across the financial sector, including vulture funds which hold 1 in 4 buy to let and 1 in 7 homeowner.

“We must ensure that every mortgage-holder is protected at this time regardless of whether their mortgages are held by retail banks, vulture funds or other non-bank lenders.

“I will be meeting with the Minister for Finance tomorrow to discuss further measures that can be implemented to protect those who will suffer from job or income loss in the weeks and months ahead. We must do all we can to protect workers and families.”

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