Ministers Flanagan and Doherty publish results of Abhaile - and encourage remaining borrowers in home mortgage arrears to avail of its services
Minister Doherty announces extension of MABS Dedicated Mortgage Arrears service, as part of Abhaile
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan T.D., and the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty T.D., today jointly published reports reviewing the take-up and outcomes of Abhaile over a two-year period (July 2016 - June 2018). The aim of Abhaile is to help mortgage holders in arrears to find the best solutions and keep them, wherever possible, in their own homes. It provides vouchers for free financial and legal advice and help from experts, which are available through MABS.
Minister Flanagan said: “Abhaile is now delivering real, successful solutions for borrowers struggling to pay their mortgage arrears. The number of home mortgage accounts in arrears has now fallen to less than half its late 2013 peak. I am particularly pleased to see that Abhaile is delivering results even for borrowers in the more challenging levels of arrears, who are those most at risk. Abhaile is undoubtedly making an important contribution to the drop in arrears for this worst-affected category and is helping those who fell into arrears due to loss of earnings, illness or family separation.”
Abhaile is jointly coordinated and funded by the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI), the Legal Aid Board (LAB) and the Citizens Information Board (CIB) are working together to provide the Abhaile service.
The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty also announced: “I am pleased to confirm the extension of the Dedicated Mortgage Arrears service across the MABS network to the end of this year, as an important part of the Abhaile service. These advisers are often the first point of contact for distressed mortgage holders, and provide advice and assistance to them as they seek to resolve their mortgage difficulties. I would encourage anybody who is afraid of losing their home due to mortgage arrears to take the first step, and call the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) and seek assistance. “
The case studies in the reports show the huge difference that these solutions can make for struggling homeowners. While these sustainable solutions can take time to put in place, the vast majority of Abhaile solutions enable people to remain in their homes. Furthermore, in 64% of court review cases legally aided by Abhaile during Year Two, the court decided to impose the personal insolvency arrangement proposed by the borrower, which had been rejected by the creditors.
The Ministers concluded by encouraging all over-indebted homeowners who are afraid of losing their home due to mortgage arrears to take the first step, and call the MABS helpline Mon-Fri 9am to 8pm at 0761 07 2000, or visit the website at www.mabs.ie . All Abhaile services are confidential, and are provided without charge to the borrower.
The Abhaile reports can be read here:
A further report on its progress will issue later this year.
Notes to Editors:
The following are available to respond to media queries on the detailed operation of Abhaile:
- Mr. Lorcan O’Connor – Director, Insolvency Service of Ireland, contact number 0761064295 and firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ms. Angela Black – CEO, Citizens Information Board, contact number 086 7766219 or email@example.com
- Mr. John McDaid – CEO, Legal Aid Board, contact number 01-6469606 or 0876597358
- Ms. Annmarie O’Connor – Business Manager, MABS National Development, contact number 087 9171012 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Role of Abhaile
Abhaile, the national mortgage arrears resolution service, has been operating since July 2016. It is an innovative service, providing independent expert financial and legal advice and assistance, free of charge, to people who are insolvent and at risk of losing their homes due to mortgage arrears. Abhaile is focused on identifying and putting in place financial solutions for over-indebted borrowers, with priority for enabling them, wherever possible, to remain in their own homes.
Abhaile is now delivering personal insolvency arrangements, alternative repayment plans, or other arrangements such as debt for equity deals or Mortgage to Rent, that are tailored to the borrower’s individual situation, and are realistic, sustainable and fair, both to borrowers and to creditors.
While Abhaile does offer duty solicitor and court mentor services for those in repossession proceedings, the main focus is on solving the borrower’s substantive problem in a sustainable way, by resolving the arrears themselves in a way tailored to the borrower’s individual situation. Civil legal aid is still available in the normal way for anyone with a valid legal defence to repossession proceedings.
Supports available under Abhaile
MABS provides a ‘universal gateway’ for borrowers to access Abhaile – either by calling to a MABS office or by phoning the MABS Helpline. Under Abhaile, these trained staff will assess the borrower’s situation, and direct him or her to the Abhaile adviser best placed to help them.
Depending on the borrower’s situation, this may be one or more of the Abhaile services listed below, which respond to the different needs of borrowers at risk of losing their homes due to mortgage arrears:
- Financial advice and negotiation assistance from a MABS Dedicated Mortgage Arrears (“DMA”) Adviser
- Financial advice and negotiation assistance from a Personal Insolvency Practitioner (“PIP”)
- Financial advice and help from an accountant
- Legal advice and help from a consultation solicitor
- Support and information at repossession court proceedings, from a Court Mentor
- Legal support and information at repossession court proceedings, from a duty solicitor
- Legal aid for a court review under the Personal Insolvency Acts, where creditors refuse a reasonable proposal that includes the borrower’s home mortgage arrears.
Abhaile also includes a national communications and information campaign, managed by CIB, which aims to reach borrowers in serious home mortgage arrears, and to inform them how to access the available services.
Main results: Uptake and outcomes of Abhaile at end June 2018
- 11,695 individual borrowers (over 10,000 households) in mortgage arrears have received independent expert Abhaile financial advice and negotiation support, aimed at putting a solution in place.
- Over 7,100 borrowers facing repossession proceedings have received advice and support under Abhaile from a Court Mentor.
- Almost 4,800 borrowers facing repossession proceedings have received legal assistance at court from an Abhaile Duty Solicitor.
- Over 70% of borrowers who received PIP financial advice under Abhaile to date were in mortgage arrears equivalent to more than 720 days’ repayments: this is the priority Abhaile target group.
- Over 3,300 solutions are now in place, or on trial, for insolvent borrowers who were at risk of losing their home due to mortgage arrears, and in many cases facing repossession.
- As of July 2018, over 30% of the 11,695 borrowers who engaged with Abhaile financial advice either have a solution in place or on trial, or will have within one year of taking up advice.
- A further 53% of borrowers who engaged with Abhaile financial advice (6,148 borrowers) are still in their homes, and are receiving ongoing support from their Abhaile financial adviser, who is working with the borrower to get a solution into place.
- 16% of borrowers are not engaging after receiving financial advice under Abhaile. Information on outcomes is not available for borrowers who have disengaged: where possible, MABS seeks to follow up with these borrowers and encourage them again to engage with available supports.
- 95% of Personal Insolvency Arrangements negotiated by PIPs under Abhaile are keeping borrowers in their homes.
- 86% of the solutions achieved by DMA Advisers under Abhaile enable borrowers to remain in their homes.
As well as the concrete advice and support provided by Abhaile, the service is assisting mortgage arrears resolution more generally, by providing legal aid for Court review cases, where a personal insolvency proposal to resolve the borrower’s debts has been refused by his or her creditor(s). The Court Review removes the so-called “bank veto”, and allows the Courts to approve and impose the borrower’s proposal, if satisfied that it is fair to all parties.
Over the two-year period, a total of 809 borrowers were granted legal aid under Abhaile to seek a personal insolvency court review. 64% of the review cases decided by the Courts during Year Two were decided in the borrower’s favour, which means that the Court evaluated the proposal as fair and reasonable to all parties and imposed the arrangement on the creditors, allowing the borrower to stay in their home.