The Land and Conveyancing Law Reform (Amendment) Bill 2019 (the Bill) is currently being considered by the Oireachtas.
If enacted, it will broaden the range of matters the Court must consider in repossession proceedings and provide borrowers with more protection where the principal private residence (PPR) is liable to be repossessed.
The Bill aims to amend and expand the provisions of the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2013 (the 2013 Act). Section 2 of the 2013 Act provides for the adjournment of possession proceedings in respect of PPRs to allow the borrower to consult a personal insolvency practitioner (PIP). The Bill will apply: -
- in cases in which the Court has adjourned proceedings under section 2 of the 2013 Act, or
- the borrower has previously engaged the services of a PIP to assist in the resolution of his or her mortgage arrears problem; or
- the borrower has participated in good faith in a "designated scheme".
Designated scheme is defined by the Bill to mean a scheme designated by the Minister for Justice and Equality which has the objective of providing borrowers in difficulty with assistance reasonably likely to enable the borrowers to address the difficulties and remain in their PPR.
The Bill requires the Court to take account of the following matters when considering whether or not to make an order for repossession of a PPR:
- If the possession order is proportionate in all the circumstances of the case;
- The particular circumstances of the borrower and their dependants;
- Whether the lender has provided terms to the borrower upon which the lender might consider settling the matter resulting in the borrower remaining in their PPR;
- What proposals were put to the lender by the borrower which would enable the borrower or their dependants to remain in the PPR or secure alternative accommodation;
- What response the lender provided to the borrower's proposals;
- The conduct of both parties in attempting to find a resolution to the matter; and
- Such additional matters as it considers appropriate.
The Court will also be expected to consider the amount of the debt concerned, the amount of the arrears and the market value of the PPR at the date on which the proceedings commenced.
Impact on repossession proceedings
The matters provided for in the Bill are not novel and are in most cases are factors already considered by the Court in repossession matters. The Bill does enhance protection for borrowers facing repossession who face proceedings seeking repossession of their PPR. The progression of the Bill is at an early stage and it is subject to change, however lenders should be prepared for its impact on repossession proceedings once enacted.