Healy O'Connor

Architect Ordered to Pay €663,000 on Repossessed House

Shane Healy, Commercial Partner says that “it is critically important that people understand the terms and conditions of their mortgages”.

For instance, an architect whose investment property was repossessed and sold after he missed mortgage payments is facing further payments of more than €663,000.

David Grant has been ordered by the High Court to pay ICS Building Society the remainder of a mortgage on the property even though it seized it back from him. Grant had appealed to the High Court, saying that the bank’s loan to him was “reckless” and its claim “unfair”.

He asked why he should be asked to repay the full loan when the banks in general were being bailed out by the Irish taxpayer. In the court last week, High Court judge Peter Charleton said that Grant and ICS both seemed to have taken the same “overvalued view” about the value of the house and land near Newtown – Mountkennedy in Co. Wicklow. Grant paid €372,033 for the property in 2002, intending to build a housing estate. He borrowed €788,000 from the ICS in 2003 and a further €92,000 in 2004. The loans were secured by a mortgage on the property, which ICS valued at €1.1 million.

By 2007, Grant still owed €811,029. In December 2008, the building society repossessed the property, which was sold last September €355,000. The Master of the High Court granted ICS judgment for €1,007,103, less the sale proceeds.

Grant told the court he had a legitimate expectation that he would be able to develop the property so he could keep up his repayments and ultimately make a profit. When he borrowed the money from ICS, he considered his investment to be “sound, prudent and wise”.

However, Charleton said that it wasn’t accurate to claim that a mortgage was effectively a promise that, in the event of default, the bank would simply sell off the property and write off the rest of the debt.

The judge said ICS had used a “serious auctioneer” who had secured “the best price reasonably to be obtained” in 2009.

He said the low selling price had “more to do with domestic lack of prudence” than Grant’s claim of a “major, economic and financial worldwide collapse”.

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