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New rules agreed for distressed mortgage holders

An agreement on how to resolve disputes between lenders and distressed mortgage holders has been reached between two leading agencies.

MABS, the State-backed Money Advice and Budgeting Service and the Banking and Payments Federation have announced the agreement, saying it will help consumers who are struggling with mortgage debt.

The agreement extends to so-called vulture funds, which have been the subject of much controversy for how they handle home repossessions.

They are openly referred to as vulture funds, but in banking circles they are officially called Credit Servicing Firms, and are now subject to regulatory oversight by the Central Bank.

The funds buy distressed mortgages off the banks, at a knockdown price, in the hope of selling on at a profit.

That can often lead to people being evicted, and the vulture funds have been roundly criticised for being heavy handed and unsympathetic to struggling families.

The agreement applies to borrowers who have already been through the Central Bank Mortgage Arrears Resolution process without success and are entering the legal process.

It sets out rules of engagement between funds and MABS, when they are representing mortgage holders.

Given the unease over relations between both sides in recent years, it is a first step in trying to resolve difficult issues, by providing some fairness for borrowers.

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