Hundreds of thousands of Irish mortgage holders are living in fear that their homes will be repossessed by the banks.

A new research poll for the Sunday Independent highlights the fear factor now prevalent amongst mortgage payers as interest rates continue to rise.

The dramatic fall in the price of Irish property coupled with the collapse of the banking system and the rise in unemployment has led to the new fear.

The poll – carried out by the Quantum Research group for the Sunday Independent – has found that a third of all people surveyed now fear they will be unable to meet their repayments in the near future.

As a result of their dire financial state they are worried that their homes will be re-possessed by the very banks bailed out by the tax-payers as a result of the bank guarantee system introduced by the last Fianna Fail-Green Party government.

Asked by the Sunday Independent what their greatest fear was, 29 percent said losing their home, closely followed by an inability to pay household bills, a reduction in living standards and losing their job.



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According to the paper, the most striking aspect of the poll was that the numbers who fear losing their homes has soared by 20 percentage points in just six months.

When the question was last asked, in January, just nine percent said they feared losing their homes.

Figures released last week show that arrears on residential loans rose by almost one percent in just two months, to 7.62 percent.

The Moodys ratings agency said the outlook for Irish home loans is negative and that unemployment will push more borrowers into arrears.

The agency said that 2.38 percent of mortgages had not been paid for 360 days or more, up from 1.89 percent last January and 1 percent in April 2010.

The Government moratorium designed to protect homeowners who are in arrears covers a period of just 12 months.