FLAC reaction to mortgage arrears figures from Central Bank in February 2012

17 February 2012

FLAC Press Release Friday 17 February 2012

The legal rights organisation FLAC today said that even though the rise in mortgage debt was entirely predictable, there should be no complacency. According to Noeline Blackwell, Director General of FLAC "There is a danger that because they are predictable, we are no longer appalled by the continually rising number of family home mortgages in trouble. It is a huge problem now for over 100,000 households. The number of mortgages in arrears has risen by a substantial 12.6% over 3 months. This needs an urgent comprehensive solution."
Paul Joyce, the organisation's Senior Policy Researcher pointed out that "three-quarters of the mortgages labelled as troubled have been in arrears for 6 months or more, with the average arrears on these mortgages now €19,364. "
The organisation had earlier this week urged the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice Equality and Defence to ensure that the new personal insolvency scheme deals effectively with mortgage debt as well as unsecured debt. According to Paul Joyce "Currently, the draft scheme of legislation largely depends on the goodwill of lenders to work. It will be very important that a person's entire indebtedness is dealt with in the scheme and that creditors, whether secured or unsecured, should not be allowed to veto reasonable repayment plans."

Editors' notes:
1. FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is an independent human rights organisation dedicated to the realisation of equal access to justice for all. It campaigns through advocacy, strategic litigation and authoritative analysis to contribute to the eradication of social and economic exclusion.
2. The Central Bank figures can be accessed at
3. The number of mortgages in arrears has risen from 62970 to 70,911, an increase of 12.6% over 3 months
4. 70,911 private residential family home mortgages are in arrears for 3 months or longer by 31/12/2011. Of these, 53,086 are in arrears for 6 months or more. In addition, 36, 797 have been restructured but are not in arrears. The number of houses sold by lenders has increased slightly (118 compared to 87 in Q3 2011). On the other hand, the number of houses voluntarily surrendered reduced from 119 to 83. At the end of the quarter, 895 houses were in the possession of lenders compared to 880 in Q3 2011.
5. A copy of the presentation by FLAC to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice on 15 February 2012 is available at
6. FLAC has already worked other NGOs to develop '9 Principles to overcome personal debt' last October - read more at