The Irish Times published an article on its front page today about Paul Carroll’s efforts to get a reasonable solution for a Tipperary couple.
The full text of Conor Pope’s article is below, but the “misrepresentation” allegation is disingenuous at best – the facts are indisputable and do not reflect well on Ulster Bank.
A terminally ill woman and her husband, in mortgage distress, have accused Ulster Bank of “intimidating and harassing” them by refusing to allow the sale of their home.
A financial adviser working with the couple also claimed that the bank had repeatedly misplaced or lost sensitive financial documents – including letters of authority allowing him to negotiate on their behalf – and tried to impose unsustainable debt solutions.
The Tipperary couple, in their early 50s, have two teenage children and built their 3,100 sq ft home in 2007, using an Ulster Bank mortgage on which about €670,000 is outstanding. They both owned businesses, in construction and retailing, but both businesses closed in 2008.
The husband found a job soon afterwards but the household income still fell by more than half, making mortgage payments of nearly €3,000 a month impossible. His wife was diagnosed with cancer in 2011.
Since then they have struggled financially. They found a buyer willing to pay €320,000, which they say is 20 per cent more than the bank’s valuation of the property; but, after weeks of deliberating, the bank blocked the sale last week.
It proposed a repayment arrangement that would see the couple pay about €1,300 a month towards their mortgage for 10 years, after which the loan would be reassessed.
“I might be able to afford €1,300 a month in the summer, when business is good, but there is no way I could afford it in the winter, when things are quiet,” the man said.
“We just want to sell the house. . . It seems to me that they want to follow me to the grave for the money. I am under so much pressure and have been for six years. What is happening now seems to be pure intimidation.”
Financial adviser Paul Carroll, who is handling the case on a pro-bono basis, said he was “outraged at the abuse of our clients” and said the bank should be made take responsibility for “pushing this family over the edge”.
The bank accused him of “a complete misrepresentation of the facts” and said its objective in situations such as this “was to help families in distressing circumstances stay in their home”.
It declined to comment on the details of case directly but said it had tried to “talk them through their options and support them as compassionately as possible in their time of difficulty”.
Conor Pope, Irish Times, Thursday 29th May, 2014