Increased Mortgage protections for Irish consumers
In 2016, a law was introduced to transpose the Mortgage Credit Directive, which increases protections for mortgage holders and increases choice by making it easier for people to get a mortgage from banks in other EU countries.
The Directive allowed for a certain number of national discretions and these have been the subject of a public consultation process. The decisions on these discretions were previously announced and have now been incorporated as necessary into these Regulations.
This mortgage law complements existing consumer protection provisions in relation to residential mortgages such as the Consumer Credit Act 1995.
It also works alongside the Central Bank of Ireland Consumer Protection Code and the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears. It applies to all new agreements that involve consumer mortgages.
The overall objective of the Mortgage Credit Directive is to open up a European market for mortgages with common minimum standards. This includes the provision of standardised information and common standards for brokers and mortgage providers across the EU.
When the Register is operational it will act as a support to the financial services industry in order to underpin and promote responsible lending and responsible borrowing. It will also aid the supervisory functions of the Central Bank and will enhance consumer protection measures in respect of lending.
The Register will contain credit information pertaining to both consumers and businesses. The Act also provides that credit providers must access the Register when a consumer or business makes an application for a loan in excess of €2,000, in order to ascertain their creditworthiness.
Benefits for consumers will include free access to their own credit record once every twelve months. There will be an audit trail on each record, controls on access, data protection requirements as well as measures to mitigate the opportunities for identity theft.
Enactment of the legislation and the introduction of the new credit register will help to support the Irish banking system. Placing a mandatory reporting requirement on credit information providers will help to ensure that the credit register contains robust data.
The Department of Finance plays a key role in implementing the government’s comprehensive strategy to address the problem of mortgage arrears. The mortgage arrears strategy is built around the following pillars: