The bill was written by Master of the High Court Edmund Honohan and introduced in the Dáil chamber today by Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness.

The Affordable Housing and Fair Mortgage Bill 2018 deals with evictions, mortgage-to-rent solutions, sales to vulture funds and the reconfiguration of the government’s legal advice service Abhaile as a mortgage resolution agency.

Vulture Funds are lining up to add to the substantial distressed loan portfolios they have already secured from bailed-out Irish Banks, Nama and others.

According to Brian Reilly, a Co-Founder at Right2Homes, and a long-time advocate for legislative change to help provide a platform for ethically-funded alternatives, “An economic and legal travesty is happening right before our very eyes, with bad history repeating itself, only this time around it is happening with the willful neglect of government which is standing idly by with ‘eyes wide shut’ effectively condemning tens of thousands of Irish homeowners to the ruthless clutches of vulture funds and also to a broken system of repossessions.

This is economic madness according to many independent-minded TDs, Senators, Opposition Parties, Academics and Housing Charities alike, all of whom have pledged their support for the ‘Affordable Housing and Fair Mortgage Bill 2018. 

The Bill was formally introduced into Dáil Éireann as a Private Members Bill by the Chairman of the Oireachtas Finance Committee, Deputy John McGuinness (FF) - see video link.

The Bill was drafted by the Master of the High Court, Edmund Honohan.  He says:

“This Bill presents legislators with an opportunity to cast aside the vested interests of the many cartels involved in the banking and property sectors within Ireland. Instead it provides for decisive action to help keep people in their homes through re-engineered mortgages and other solutions offered by ethically-funded and not-for-profit organisations, Housing Bodies and Co-Operatives.”

At present, the procedure whereby mortgagors can be, and are, being ejected from their homes is completely flawed. The MARPS process involves an appeals procedure from a lending institution to another committee within the same bank, held in private, without any representation. The courts routinely ignore such EU legislation as the Unfair Contract Terms directive, and the EU doctrine of proportionality, and act simply as a rubber stamp for the banks.

There is no full appeals procedure from the Circuit Court to the High Court. In short, the mortgage providers are being facilitated and every possible bar is put in the way of home owners, including no effective system of legal aid.

All this happening in the context of a crisis of housing, homelessness, and rising suicide rates.

“It is no longer acceptable for Irish politicians to remain silent while a massive transfer of home ownership is happening right before their very eyes.”

This Bill aims to not only provide legal protections for distressed mortgagors but also provides a credible solution for the bailed-out banks, attempting to keep their on-going dealings with vulture funds within the bounds of the common good. The Bill also collects and underscores the many pertinent values of existing EU and ECHR rulings and laws, rendering judges less likely to ignore the interests of mortgage holders. If passed, it will facilitate reasonable compromises designed to enable people to remain in their homes, rather than casting the burden of rehousing them on the public purse, and gilding the profit margins of the vulture funds.

Bill 77 of 2018

An Act to highlight the State's adherance to EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights in regard to the present emergency in the housing sector and, in particular, in dealing with mortgage arrears; to provide for a platform for an open market - "the national affordable cooperative housing exchange"- in which mortgagees and purchasers of home loans and security housing must deal; to secure for preferred not-for-profit housing providers a purchasers first refusal on such sales via a non-compulsory purchase order call option; to designate the registrar of friendly societies as the exchange point for such sales; to promote not-for-profit third sector non-state provision of affordable housing ranging from mutually funded to internationally funded in the ethical bond market; to allow for the broadening of the mortgage to rent mortgage rescue model to be available without any local authority involvement to voluntary, mutual and not-for-profit housing providers funded privately and without recourse to public funds or state guarantee; and to provide for reconfiguring Abhaile as a mortgage resolution agency.

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