herald

Monday 28 July 2014

Bank told me to hand over my children's allowance

DAD-OF-THREE Ben Gilroy said that his mortgage lenders told him to send children's allowance cheques to pay off their debt.

The self-employed businessman moved house at the height of the boom but said he had been "bled dry" with a €2,800-a-month interest-only loan.

Ben, who is in his late-40s, is now struggling to make ends meet in his negative equity home.

He moved to an interest-only loan with a lender to improve his credit rating.

"I was promised that after six to nine months, I would improve my credit rating and I could start with the main stream banks," he said. "I was on an interest-only mortgage for the short term."

Ben, who is in the alarm business, had been paying out close to €3,000 each month for a €310,000 mortgage. "I'm in my late 40s, why would I sign up for an interest-only loan at this stage unless I had been promised a way out?" he told the Herald.

"They set the interest rates so high that they are bleeding people dry. I don't mind taking half the hits, but not all of them. I have €175,000 in life savings in there.

"All my money is gone now. I paid €2,800 for three-and-a-half years. I've paid nearly €75,000 in interest.

"My wife was told to send the cheques for the children's allowance to the company to pay off the mortgage."

Ben, who wants to remove the stigma for homeowners who have missed payments, is part of a new organisation made up of volunteer legal professionals, politicians and homeowners called Defend Our Homes League. "We're not idiots -- we're not saying 'Wipe my mortgage off'. I'm willing to pay a fair price over a number of years," he said.

"I don't want to become a burden on the State. I'm willing to pay €800 a month. I'm a citizen paying my way."

He joined the group established by, among others, Joan Collins TD, Maureen O'Sullivan TD, Joe Higgins TD and Finian McGrath TD, to give other homeowners advice.

They also want the Government to implement recommendations by the Law Reform Commission and improve the situation for mortgage holders.

"There is a stigma about it all, but I've done nothing wrong.," Ben said.

hnews@herald.ie

Opinion

Entertainment News