‘A significant number of people will lose their homes’ – McGuinness responds to Finance Minister’s protection assurances

According to a recent report, Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness has said a significant number of people will lose their homes as a result of the sale of a loanbook by PTSB.

The Chair of the Oireachtas Finance Committee was responding to comments made by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe earlier today in which he sought to assure homeowners affected by the sale that they will be protected.

Speaking on RTE Radio One’s Morning Ireland programme, the Finance Minister said that he had been aware since January that the process to sell the loans was underway and was informed yesterday that PTSB would be making a stock market announcement in relation to it.

“I am confident because of the protections that we have in place that we will be able to give continued protection to homeowners that could be affected by this. The reason for this is because if you are a tenant or if you are a borrower your protection is not affected by who owns the loan book,” he told RTE Radio One’s Morning Ireland programme.

However, Deputy McGuinness said it was wrong of the Minister for Finance to say that the protections the borrowers had with PTSB on their loans would travel with the loan to the new lender.

“It’s wrong of the minister to say that tenants and borrowers are protected at present, they’re not protected from these vulture funds,” he told RTÉ 1’s ‘Today with Miriam’.

“We’re constantly told by Government that the protections that are in place travel with the loan and that simply has not been the experience of those caught up with vulture funds. This will be that a significant number of people will lose their homes.

“That is simply not true, it’s not correct and Paschal Donohoe knows it.”

Mr McGuinness, who last month introduced the Affordable Housing and Fair Mortgages Bill to the Dail, said because the Government owns 75pc of PTSB, that a debate was needed on whether or not this was the “right way to go in Irish society”.

He said vulture funds should be stopped from buying loans and said an ethical fund should be set up to buy distressed mortgages to help people stay in their homes on a sustainable basis.

“What’s missing here from this debate is the fact that PTSB have…put before us facts that were challenged and found to be incorrect.

“It’s easy for the bank to say that these are non-performing loans, that people simple won’t pay. This is not the full truth.”

Mr McGuinness has also said the Dáil must be recalled to deal with his Affordable Housing and Fair Mortgages Bill, which is at second stage.

State-backed lender PTSB finalised its sale of mortgages linked to 10,700 properties, including 7,400 owner-occupied homes, to US private equity giant Lone Star.

Lone Star is a so-called distressed debt investor – a type of investor commonly dubbed a vulture fund. The loans were sold at a massive discount,reflecting the deep arrears of many of the borrowers.

Irish Independent On Line 2 August 2018

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