A DIVORCED Limerick mother of two has won a legal battle to keep her home after the actions of AIB Mortgage bank were described as “disgraceful” by a court when the lender sought her to pay €3,114 in legal fees to take out a new mortgage in her sole name.
Striking out the proceedings brought by AIB before Limerick Circuit Court, County Registrar Pat Wallace said that the “needs to take a look at themselves” despite the woman making regular payments since her husband left her to look after their mortgage since 2009.
At a sitting of the Repossessions list in Limerick, the court was told that the bank, who had initiated proceedings against the mother of two, sent her a solicitor’s letter demanding the fees be paid and that she take out a new loan.
The court heard from lawyers for the bank that the total debt outstanding on the loan was over €93,000 and included in that was over €38,000 in arrears.
However, the mother of two, approached the County Registrar at the court bench and handed in a ring binder folder of documents.
In it, the woman had full documentation of her engagement with the bank since 2009 and the various payment periods, amounts and negotiations that the parties had agreed to.
Mr Wallace asked for explanation of the situation to date and lawyers for the bank said that even though they had initiated the repossession proceedings in court, they were looking for a three month adjournment to allow the “bank engage in further negotiations with the customer”.
On hearing that the solicitors letter was sent to the woman on August 17 last, Mr Wallace described the actions of AIB Mortgage Banking as “disgraceful”
The woman explained that she was paying €480 per month on her original tracker mortgage and was fully engaged in an ongoing process but she was told that she had to take out a new mortgage loan and pay their associated fees.
“This is disgraceful, disgraceful. I am striking out the proceedings, with no order. The bank needs to take a look at themselves,” said Mr Wallace as he advised the woman to continue making her loan repayments as she had been doing to date.
After the ruling, the woman walked to the back of the court to collect her belongings from the seats at the public gallery and she was met by rapturous applause by other litigants in the court.
Speaking outside the court after her victory, the woman who asked not to be named said that she felt like it was the 1990’s and she was the first divorced person coming before the courts as the bank didn’t know how to treat her.
Explaining her story, the mother said that she bought a house in County Limerick in 2000 with a tracker mortgage from AIB.
In 2009, her family circumstances changed and the family of four became a family of two when her ex-husband walked out.
“I applied for a moratorium and it was agreed and then I paid €130 per month”, the mother explained and added that she increased that two years later.
“The next thing, I was contacted by Certus and they wanted me to submit a statement of financial means.”
In February 2014, an improved payment schedule of €480 per month was agreed by the mother of two and her bank with the last payment being received on December 31, 2015.
“I handed the court a file to substantiate the fact that I cooperated and fully engaged with the process from the very start.”
“The next thing I got was a solicitor’s letter from the bank, telling me that I was to be here in the County Registrars Court. I thought it was the cheek of them to come back and land me with their legal fees for a process which I totally cooperated with from start to finish,” she said.
When asked if the whole experience had caused her a great deal of stress, the Limerick woman said “I didn’t feel at any point that AIB had any procedure that they were following in relation to divorced people trying to sort out their properties. In any of the dealings with them, I never got any impression that they had any procedure in place. And obviously I am not the first person to get divorced in Ireland. I felt like it was the 1990s and I was the first test case that had been divorced, to come before the courts.
“In August the bank wanted me to take out a new mortgage in my name and they know from the financial statements that I would not be able to meet the terms”, she said.
In other cases before the court, one county Limerick farmer told solicitors for the banks that he was in the process of selling 60 acres of land to pay off arrears of over €199,000 on his house.
Moving the application for the bank to take possession of the home, the solicitor said that no payment had ever been made on the mortgage.
Mr Wallace adjourned the case until May and ordered that the Limerick farmer submit an updated statement of financial means and land evaluation to the bank within three weeks adding “he has to be given a chance to see if the land sale can meet the arrears”.