The Tánaiste Joan Burton TD, together with the Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection Kevin Humphreys T.D. , today (Tuesday, 22 December 2015) formally launched MABS’ Dedicated Mortgage Arrears Services to assist distressed mortgage holders.

MABS is the State’s money advice service, guiding people through dealing with problem debt for more than 20 years.

The Dedicated Mortgage Arrears Services launched today will increase the supports available to people in arrears, and form part of the Government’s wider range of measures to assist people with unsustainable debt.

Speaking at the launch, the Tánaiste said: “We are providing some €10 million of additional funding over the next three years across the MABS network to provide more targeted services to distressed home-owners. This will see MABS play a greater role in offering appropriate information, advice and assistance to mortgage holders through all stages of the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process and beyond.”

There will be three key strands to the Dedicated Mortgage Arrears Services:

Firstly, the MABS Helpline (which operates from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday) will provide assessment, in order to channel debtors to the most relevant source of help, based on the nature and urgency of their situation.
Secondly, specialist advisors will assist mortgage holders in assessing the extent to which the option on offer from their lender is the best and most sustainable option for them, and where required, will negotiate with their lender. Nineteen such advisors are already in place and arrangements are being finalised to ensure nationwide coverage in the coming weeks.
Thirdly, court mentors will be available to assist home-owners facing court proceedings. Working in close collaboration with the Insolvency Service of Ireland, a national network of court mentors is now in place. This follows the successful completion of a pilot project in six court locations (Dublin, Cavan, Wexford, Trim, Castlebar and Roscommon). The court mentor service offers support and advice for borrowers on court proceedings, as well as direct referral back to MABS where a case is adjourned.
Commenting on the need for court mentors, Minister Humphreys said: “Increasingly, debtors with significant mortgage arrears are arriving at MABS on receipt of letters regarding legal proceedings, needing advice and support on going to court and the range of resolution options that may be available to them. There is now a MABS Court Mentor service at all court repossession hearings right across the country.”

The Tánaiste said: “While the most recent data available from the Central Bank shows that the number of homeowners in mortgage arrears has fallen significantly as the economic recovery picks up, there is still a large number of borrowers in long-term arrears and the MABS services will provide vital support and assistance to them.”

The CIB microsite and the MABS website have comprehensive information on State services for those in mortgage distress.

Minister Humphreys said: “The combination of all these measures will enable MABS to play a greater role in assisting distressed mortgage holders by targeting its resources directly at those most in need of assistance and support. I want to thank MABS and the CIB for their extensive work over recent months to ensure that these much needed services could be made available to those in mortgage arrears as quickly as possible.”