Karl Deeter of Irish Mortgage Brokers has expressed his view that up to a quarter of mortgage holders in arrears may be deliberately delaying payments in order to try and earn some kind of debt forgiveness from their lenders.
Mr Deeter, who is also a guest blogger for MyHome.ie, told Newstalk Radio yesterday that there was inceasing evidence of mortgage holders “strategically” falling behind on their repayments in an attempt to gain concessions from their lenders.
Mr Deeter said he had received a number of indications from clients, bank debt collection teams and senior executives of a number of Irish banks that the problem of “strategic arrears” was far greater than the banks will publicly admit.
Despite being challenged on the number by Noeline Blackwell of the Free Legal Advice Centres, Mr Deeter said the level of mortgage arrears was increasing more quickly than was necessary because significant numbers of borrowers were operating under the belief “that they might get some kind of debt deal that is being caused by changes the Financial Regulator made.”
He told The Irish Times that the lowest estimate Irish Mortgage Brokers had suggested for strategic arrears was 12%.
“The figures are not being officially collated but the anecdotal evidence is very strong and is coming from several channels,” he said.
“The lowest number suggests that 12 per cent of mortgages which are in arrears don’t need to be. But the highest percentage that we’ve heard is that some collectors believe as many as one in four don’t need to be in arrears.”
Mr Deeter said it was “a disgrace” that people were choosing not to pay their mortgages when they were in a position to do so and this increased the pressure on those who were in “genuine trouble, who aren’t in this situation by choice”.