The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association have expressed grave concerns regarding Government in-action on the forced sales of distressed farm loans, small business loans and mortgages. INHFA National Chair Vincent Roddy outlined how presently there are 60,000 distressed loans and mortgages and he stated “if you average that at 3 people per household then it equates to 180,000 people that are living a life of hell”
Presently due to legislation passed last year foreign banks, financial institutions and vulture funds can buy up loan-books from Irish Banks at reduced rates ranging from 7% for a non-performing loan to 35% for a performing loan. The real fear in all of this stated Mr Roddy is “if your loan (property) ends up being owned by one of these vulture funds and it is termed distressed then unless you can pay up what is due, then you will lose the property”
There are also concerns for those with performing loans who may have reached an accommodation with their lender to pay back a reduced rate. Once again stated Mr Roddy “these people may also find themselves facing excessive demands from their new masters”
“This present situation cannot be allowed continue and it is well time for the Government to act” added Mr Roddy. What the INHFA are proposing is that the State buys up these loan-books at the discounted rate. What this may see is a €300,000 loan purchased for €40,000 and then either through the Local Authority or another State Agency leased back to the original owners, who could also be given an option to purchase at a later date.
In this scenario stated Mr Roddy “the State could borrow the money on the long term bond markets (30 to 40 years) at a low interest rate and would see their investment returned either through rent or the re-sale of the property”
Mr Roddy concluded by pointing out that the Irish Land Acts of 1870 and 1903 saw the largest ever transfer of property from foreign ownership into the hands of Irish farmers. This he stated “was facilitated by loans from a foreign power and on the centenary of the 1916 Rising it would be nothing short of a national disgrace, if an Irish Government elected by Irish people was to allow large scale transfers of Irish properties to foreign ownership”