Limerick senator invites vulture fund to appear before Oireachtas committee

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

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nick@limerickleader.ie

Limerick senator invites Vulture Fund to appear before Oireachtas committee

Senator Kieran O'Donnell

LIMERICK Senator Kieran O’Donnell has invited Start Mortgages, which took on a tranche of non-performing Permanent TSB mortgages, to discuss the matter in front of the Oireachtas finance committee.

The Fine Gael man wants the company to come to Leinster House to explain its purchase of the 10,700 of the lender’s so called ‘Project Glas’ group of home loans.

“I want to find out what their intentions are as regards these mortgages and their customers,” Fine Gael’s Seanad Finance spokesperson told Leader Business.

“Many of these people are under pressure. They are a mortgage firm, so I want to find out what arrangements they can put out in terms of arrears, and what their intentions are if people want to remain in their homes.”

Mr O’Donnell pointed out that although 10,700 loans are included in the portfolio, a huge number more than this will be affected, when you take into account families and couples.

He acknowledged that Start – based in Clonskeagh, Dublin 4 – is not compelled to attend, but he believes the firm will.

“Start is regulated by the Central Bank, and they are in the mortgage market as it is. So I want to explore the possibilities this could provide in terms of alleviating pressure on customers, on what their intentions are in terms of dealing with arrears,” he said.

Mr O’Donnell believes Start Mortgages will be more sympathetic to homeowners than other so-called Vulture Funds, as it specialises in home loans already.

“My main concern is the customers. Obviously, we have to have a healthy banking system, but that cannot be in any way to the detriment of ordinary homeowners, many of whom borrowed at peak times, and perhaps overpaid for their homes,” he added.

The invite to Start Mortgages is expected to issue shortly.

Of the loans sold on to the firm, a majority of 7,400 are owner-occupier mortgages.

The value of the portfolio is around €1.3bn.

Limerick renters have in the last two years been hit by the purchase of property by vulture funds.

The most high-profile example of this occurred in January 2017, when tenants at the Strand Apartments were ordered to vacate their properties by the following April.

The majority of the apartments in the complex were owned by Sova Properties Ltd, a subsidiary of Lalco Holdings Ltd.

The debts on the site were sold to Oaktree Capital Management, which then directed Sova to sell the apartments by vacant possession.

Only a fortnight ago, the Limerick Leader revealed that Ormston House was being sold by the New York City-based vulture fund Cerberus Capital Management.