Irish Banks clamping down on strategic defaulters

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At the headquarters of Allied Irish Banks in Dublin’s embassy belt, CEO David Duffy is taking aim at borrowers who refuse to repay their home loans.

Bloomberg News reports that strategic defaulters, homeowners who can pay but won’t, account for 20% of Allied Irish’s home-loan arrears, the nation’s biggest mortgage lender said on August 1.

The bank is fighting back after the government, responding to surging loan delinquencies in the wake of Western Europe’s worst real-estate collapse, made home repossessions easier.

The decision to go after strategic defaulters is raising suspicions in a country where about a quarter of all mortgages are in trouble and foreclosures have traditionally been a taboo topic. Jack O'Connor, head of Irish labor union SIPTU, said earlier this month that Duffy is laying the groundwork for a wave of home seizures.

The Irish government committed $85bn to save its banks after they went on a lending spree that fuelled a decade-long property boom that collapsed in 2008. Five of the country’s six main domestic banks were taken over by the state.

Back at Allied Irish headquarters in south Dublin, Duffy has fired off thousands of letters to defaulters who have so far ignored the bank’s efforts to reach them, threatening legal action that could ultimately lead to repossession: 'There is no rent-free option available anymore,' said Duffy at Allied Irish. 'And that needs to be understood.'

Hit the link below to access the complete Bloomberg article.

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