Mortgage arrears fall as more accounts are restructured

The number of mortgage accounts in arrears is continuing to fall as more restructuring agreements are put in place, Department of Finance figures show.

However, the vast majority of accounts that are in arrears of more than 90 days have yet to be restructured.

This suggests that while progress is being made on tackling the arrears problem, the pace of reform is slow.

Based on data from Irish-based mortgage providers, the department’s figures show 72,897 mortgage account holders are behind in their repayments by at least 90 days.

Just over 15,000 (21 per cent) of these have been permanently restructured while a further 5,822 (8 per cent) are now in some form of temporary restructuring arrangement.

This means that some 53,000 (71 per cent) are still to agree some form of restructuring arrangement with their lender.

Nonetheless, the data indicated that the number of accounts behind in their repayments by 90 days or more has fallen by 5,500 since March.

Overall, agreements between consumers and lenders have led to 72,819 permanent mortgage restructures as of the end of June.

The data also show that the number of split-mortgage arrangements, where part of the mortgage is put aside for a fixed term, rose with 14,158 of these deals in place at the end of June, an increase of 4,114 on the first quarter of the year.

The department compiles its figures using data from the country’s six main mortgage providers - AIB, Bank of Ireland, PTSB, ACC, KBC Ireland and Ulster Bank, which covers 90 per cent of the mortgage market.

The information therefore differs somewhat from the Central Bank data as it relates to data from the six banks only.

The number of owner-occupier accounts in arrears of greater than 90 days and not restructured has fallen from 62,210 accounts at the end of August last year, when the department’s data series began, to 52,053 accounts at the end of the second quarter this year.

In the buy-to-let sector, the figures show that overall arrears fell only marginally from 33,490 in May to 33,347 at the end of June.

Significantly, the data show the number of accounts in arrears of greater than 90 days increased by 51 accounts in June, but fell by 262 accounts when compared with March.

The banks have been accused of not doing enough to tackle arrears in this sector.

Agreements between account holders and banks in the buy-to-let sector led to 13,843 permanent restructures, an increase of 409 accounts on the previous month.

Permanent restructures for accounts in arrears of greater than 90 days increased by 122 accounts when compared with the previous month and by 433 accounts when compared with the first quarter of the year.

The six main lenders have reported to the department that they have now have 4,660 rent receivers in place.

The high level of mortgage arrears has been highlighted as a major risk to Ireland’s economic recovery.

A period of rising interest rates, albeit unlikely in the near term, could also exacerbate the problem.

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