All you ever need to know for dealing with vulture funds

by Padraig Conlon

This week we give you advice on all you need to know when dealing with Vulture Funds.

In researching this piece, Padraig Conlon spoke with several legal and property experts, among them Edmund Honohan, Master of the High Court.

Here is what we’ve learned…

DUE PROCESS

All you ever need to know …

Three important reminders:

1.  Have you done an Affidavit?

2.  Have you done an Affidavit?

3.  Where is your Affidavit?

It’s a fastrack process.

You will not be allowed to give sworn evidence in person unless you’ve filed an Affidavit.

If you don’t file an Affidavit, it could be game over.

The County Registrar can order an Eviction.

But if an Affidavit is filed, the case must be transferred as a “defended” case, to a Judge.

You can appeal the Registrar’s Order (10 days).

Ask the Registrar for a Witness Summons returnable for the Hearing before the Judge; naming the MABS official you have dealt with up until now.

You will probably get a letter from the solicitor telling you not to attend Court, and isn’t that strange?

Following the crash, they changed the Rules of Court so that you wouldn’t be allowed to give evidence from the witness box.

Nice one! Happily, some judges choose to ignore those changes.

But don’t expect the judge to do your work.

That’s not their job.

Even if it’s obvious that you need an Adjournment, for instance to read a new Affidavit just handed to you, you must ask, and he will not prompt you.

He, or she, may not even give you the reasons you’ve lost the case though failure to do so means he/she’s in breach of your entitlement under the European Convention on Human Rights.

You have only 10 days to appeal the Judge’s Order to the High Court.

(Ironically, you do not need a new Affidavit to do so!)

TENANTS

This affects you too.

So, if your Landlord mortgaged the house as a “buy-to-let” investment, he may be in arrears.

Even if you’ve paid the rent, you may get a letter from a “Receiver” giving a deadline to leave.

Do you have any rights?

Think of it this way: the Bank or Vulture Fund is your new Landlord.

They must follow the Law and deal with you under the supervision of the PRT.

And guess what: 70% of these “Notices to Quit” have been found to be in breach of the rules.

So, if you get a “Notice to Quit” don’t just hand back the keys – talk to THRESHOLD.

Some tenants may not be confident that in Ireland a Landlord cannot just throw you out and change the locks.

It’s true, they can’t, and there are plenty of NGO’s who will be happy to help you.

Only time will tell if you must vacate. In the meantime, sit tight.

EVICTION

Could it be your turn?

The small print says: “if you fail to make your payments when due your home is at risk.”

That was true then, and it’s true now.

Whoever owns your loan, owns your home.

That’s the law. If you can pay off the loan, you get back your home.

But, you’re in arrears and you’re still there: how come?

It’s simple: nobody wanted to evict you.

The banks didn’t, the building societies didn’t, the Government didn’t, and even (sometimes) the Judges don’t.

Until now the lenders (“mortgagees”) followed guidelines (a “code of conduct”) set by the Central Bank and many agreed a “restructure” of payments.

Sometimes the borrowers (“mortgagors”) agreed a voluntary surrender of the house, or just walked away.

The Government rewrote the Insolvency Laws, and a few borrowers have done “arrangements”.

Even when the lenders objected the Court has the final say as to whether you get to keep the house, and on what terms.

(You will need a Personal Insolvency Practitioner for this.)

Another option suitable for some was the Government’s Mortgage-to-Rent scheme, but it hasn’t worked, as planned.

WARNING

A Vulture Fund has bought your Loan.

There’s the new problem, the Vulture Fund now actually wants to evict you.

It owns your house and wants you out so it can be sold on to someone else, at a handsome profit.

Best offer they’ll make to you is: “Give us the keys and we’ll write off your debt.”

If you can do that, fine, but you may be refused public housing afterwards.

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