This page answers two key questions: Do I qualify for Abhaile? And second, how does Abhaile work?
Do I qualify for Abhaile?
To qualify for Abhaile and get a voucher for free expert advice, you must meet 4 conditions. You must meet all 4 of the conditions. You must be:
- In mortgage arrears on your home
- At risk of losing your home because of arrears
- ‘Reasonably accommodated’
In mortgage arrears on your home: this means you are behind on your mortgage repayments.
Insolvent: this means that you are unable to pay your debts in full as they become due.
At risk of losing your home because of arrears: for example, you may have got a letter from your lender to say that:
- You are not co-operating with the lender
- Your mortgage is unsustainable (cannot be repaid in a reasonable time)
- You should consider selling or giving up (surrendering) your home
- Your lender is going to begin the legal process to repossess your home, or that legal proceedings have already begun
‘Reasonably accommodated’: this means that the costs of continuing to live in your home must not be more expensive than is reasonable. This considers both:
- Your own and your dependants’ reasonable living accommodation needs
- The costs of alternative accommodation.
MABS or your personal insolvency practitioner can tell you if you meet these conditions.
Do I still qualify for Abhaile if I own a buy-to-let property?
If you are in mortgage arrears on your own home and you also own a buy-to-let property, you can still qualify on your own home if you satisfy the conditions.
Are there exceptions to qualifying?
You will not qualify for Abhaile if:
- Your mortgage arrears relate only to a buy-to-let property.
- Your home is not appropriate to your reasonable living accommodation needs. For example, this could be if you are one person living in a 4-bedroom house or if 5 people are living in a 2-bedroom house. This is set out in section 104 of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012.
How does Abhaile work?
You can access the support available through Abhaile in 3 ways.
- By calling the MABS national helpline on 0818 07 2000 and asking to speak to someone about Abhaile. If you qualify, they may apply for a PIP voucher for you.
- Contact your local MABS office to speak with a dedicated mortgage arrears adviser (DMA adviser). They will then see what type of financial, insolvency or legal services you need.
- Through a personal insolvency practitioner (PIP) who is registered on the Abhaile PIP panel.
If the adviser – working with you – decides that you need further financial or legal advice, they will give you a voucher to contact a regulated professional such as an accountant* or a solicitor. You can use this voucher to contact an adviser on one of our panels. You should use the voucher as soon as possible and within three months.
*The accountant voucher is only available if you are working with a MABS adviser.
What legal protections do I have when I’m in arrears on my mortgage?
The Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA) outlines how mortgage lenders and people in mortgage difficulties can engage with each other. This code is issued by the Central Bank of Ireland. Our dedicated mortgage arrears advisers (DMA advisers) can help you with every part of the process.
You should know four important points about the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA).
A: The CCMA applies to your home mortgage if it is the only residential property that you own in Ireland
It applies to all regulated mortgage lenders (and their collection agents) in Ireland, but it does not apply to credit union mortgage loans or local authority mortgages. Local authorities now have their own Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process.
B: You are always protected even if your mortgage is sold
If your lender sells your mortgage to a capital fund/unregulated loan owner or credit servicing fund (sometimes called ‘vulture fund’), you are still protected by the CCMA. Your rights under the code do not change.
C: Lenders must follow a Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP)
A lender’s MARP sets out how the lender must deal with cases of mortgage difficulty. Each lender must have an:
- Arrears Support Unit (ASU) where cases of pre-arrears and arrears are dealt with using the Central Bank’s standard financial statement (SFS)
- Internal Appeals Board to consider disputes between you and the Arrears Support Unit
There are four main steps in the MARP:
Communicate with your lender
The lender must follow an approved process when communicating with you. Their communications (letters, phone calls and meetings) should be clear. and easy to understand, and they should not contact you too often. The lender must tell you if the mortgage account will be passed to a debt collection company.
Read our tips for contacting creditors for guidance.
Lender seeks financial information
The lender must gather financial information from you using a document called a standard financial statement (SFS). The lender can also ask for supporting documents such as bank statements and payslips to check your income. The lender must give you the SFS. You can complete this with the lender’s help, MABS, or another debt advice agency.
Lender assesses your finances
Your lender will use the completed SFS to assess your situation. An assessment includes overall debt, income, ability to repay, and previous payment history.
Lender offers a resolution
When a lender has assessed the SFS, they may write to you to offer an alternative repayment arrangement (ARA). Examples of some alternative arrangements include:
- Interest-only payments
- Reduced interest rate
- Term extension to mortgage
- Split mortgage (divided into two parts with one to pay later)
- Arrears capitalisation (where the arrears are turned into a separate loan for you to repay when you can)
If the lender does not think you can repay your mortgage (unsustainable) and does not offer any ARA, they must offer other options such as:
- Mortgage to rent
- Trading down your home for a less expensive one
- Voluntary sale or surrender to lender
The lender must also tell you how you can appeal a decision they have made, such as turning down your proposed alternative repayment arrangement. They should clearly explain their process for dealing with your appeals.
If you turn down an option offered by the lender, or if the lender is not willing to offer an alternative option, the lender can start legal action within 3 – 8 months.
D: You must engage with your lender for the CCMA to apply
This means you must:
- Stay in regular contact with the lender
- Be honest
- Provide relevant information as requested
- Make payments as agreed
Keep track of letters and phone calls to stay on top of this difficult situation.
For letters: keep copies of all letters you receive and send. A photocopy is useful, and you can also take a photo of letters on your phone and email them to yourself Storing these digital copies online can help you to keep track.
For phone calls: keep a note of all telephone calls you make and receive. Record the date, time, who you spoke to and the details of the conversations. Then send a follow-up letter to the lender summarising what was discussed during the phone call. You can also record conversations on your phone if the person you speak to agrees.