One in 7 now behind with mortgages
ONE in seven families are now struggling to meet mortgage repayments.
Shocking new figures on the numbers falling into arrears suggest a "social meltdown" is starting, it has been claimed.
More than 70,000 homeowners have fallen at least three months behind on their mortgage repayments.
The figures released by the Central Bank reveal that 108,000 homebuyers have fallen into some form of mortgage difficulty, with 70,000 homes now in arrears by more than 90 days. This has risen from 62,970 since last September.
And 53,086 are in arrears of six months -- a figure described as "unpalatable" by the New Beginning Group.
Experts have warned that the mortgage crisis is showing no signs of letting up with over 12,000 households now facing the prospect of losing their homes.
Independent TD Stephen Donnelly told the Herald that if the current trends continue, the country is facing "social meltdown".
While the number of repossessions fell 18pc to 133 in the last quarter of 2011, there has been a sharp rise in the number of homes receiving final demand letters by banks.
Some 9,300 homes have been issued their last warning by their lender -- with 3,000 full court proceedings under way.
While over 36,000 of the 108,000 households mentioned are not in arrears, they have had their mortgages "restructured" and are facing difficulty.
Mr Donnelly expressed shock at the figures. "It is reasonable to predict that if this rate of growth continues for the next seven quarters, or 21 months, one in four mortgages will fall into difficulty. That's social meltdown."
He added: "We are looking at the prospect in the short-term future of having one out two mortgages falling into difficulty -- the crisis is that serious."
David Hall, lawyer with New Beginning, said the fact 9,300 homes have a repossession warning hanging over them is "terrifying".
The Government is hoping its new personal insolvency legislation may ease the burden. The new measures announced last month will provide a range of options for those struggling to cope with debt.