The number of home repossessions granted in the High Court fell last year for the first time since the peak of the property boom, The Irish Times reported today.
The drop is partly due to a legal challenge, which found a flaw in legislation affecting a number of cases in the pipeline.
Almost 250 possession orders were granted, compared to 311 at the same court in 2010, figures collected by The Irish Times show.
The chancery summonses session, which takes place every Monday, deals with the bulk of High Court repossessions, though a few are also granted in other High Court civil proceedings.
Overall figures for the High Court show 109 orders for possession were granted just before the recession in 2007, rising to 238 in 2008, 293 in 2009 and 327 in 2010.
The drop in orders granted at chancery summonses sessions in 2011 can be largely attributed to a judgment delivered by Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne in July which uncovered a flaw in legislation governing property repossessions.
The judge found a failure to save aspects of old legislation when the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 was introduced.
This meant the only registered properties lenders could repossess for failure to pay mortgages were those for which they had demanded full repayment before December 1st, 2009.
As a result, many of the cases taken by lenders failed in the second half of the year.
Of the orders granted, over 100 were for family homes, over 40 were homes of individuals and the remainder were buy-to-let properties, parcels of land or commercial properties.
Almost 50 of the properties, all residential, were vacant when the orders were granted.
Some 34 owners had consented to having their property repossessed, down on 2010, when 54 had consented.
The average mortgage arrears of those who had orders for possession granted against them was almost €49,000, up nearly €6,000 on 2010.
The average size of the mortgages, which included some commercial as well as residential properties, was just under €280,000.
In most cases, the court gave a stay of execution before homes could be repossessed.
The length varied depending on circumstances, with the shortest time granted for vacant properties.
Stays for family homes were generally of six months, though some were nine months long.
The average was just over 21 weeks.
Many borrowers did not appear in court and did not send legal representation, although there was an increase last year in the number represented due to the establishment of the voluntary advocacy group New Beginning.
Over a third of the orders granted at chancery summonses were given to subprime lender Start Mortgages – a similar share to that granted to the lender in 2010.
GE Capital Woodchester Home-loans had the second highest number, with almost 30, and the remainder was between over a dozen lenders including Stepstone Mortgages, AIB, ACC Bank, Ulster Bank and Bank of Ireland.
Many other properties were repossessed through the Circuit Court system.
The latest figures, for the first nine months of 2011, show 266 orders for possession were granted there. The total for 2010 at the Circuit Court was 306.
Orders granted: Mortgage arrears average €49,000
- A total of 246 orders for possession were granted at the High Court chancery summonses in 2011
- More than one-third of orders were granted to Start Mortgages Ltd
- More than half of the orders were related to borrowers’ homes
- More than 100 were family homes
- Almost 50 of the properties were already vacant
- An average of almost €49,000 was owed in mortgage arrears for each property