Thursday, 1 February 2018

NUI Galway Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy is publishing a new, user-friendly Guide to help thousands of Irish families in mortgage distress, and facing unfair evictions to understand and advocate for their rights, using vital EU consumer and human rights law. The Guide, 'Your EU Consumer and Human Rights: A Guide for People in Mortgage Distress in Ireland', published jointly with Open Society Foundations' Abusive Lending Practices Project, is also essential reading for people improperly denied tracker mortgages, or those who have been given incorrect interest calculations. ** The Guide is available to download here: A Guide for People in Mortgage Distress in Ireland ** ‌Dr Padraic Kenna, Director of the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy at NUI Galway, and one of the authors of the report, says: "Our Guide sets out simply and clearly how existing EU law should be routinely applied to determine, firstly, whether a mortgage contract term is fair and, secondly, whether a possession or eviction notice is a proportional response to any breach of a mortgage term. By applying these EU laws, Irish courts and lawyers can really assist their clients and vulnerable defendants."The authors have stressed that the Guide is for information purposes only. It does not provide legal advice, and is not a substitute for consulting a lawyer. They suggest, within the Guide, that people share it with their solicitors. They also acknowledge, however, that a high number of people facing possession are unrepresented, due to the shortage of free and low cost legal services.The Guide has been created as part of the Open Society Foundations' Abusive Lending Practices Project, in conjunction with the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy at NUI Galway, and a group of Irish lawyers and advocates.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Dr Padraic Kenna, of the School of Law and the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy, NUIG spoke at the launch of a report on Mortgage Arrears among South Mayo MABS clients in Castlebar, Co Mayo in December 2017. The report "Mortgage Arrears Among South Mayo MABS’ Clients: April 2016 v September 2017" follows the original report which looked in detail at the personal situations of those at the centre of the mortgage arrears crisis. This shines a light into how these households have fared some 18 months later. Although some progress has been made in addressing the mortgage arrears crisis, the number of accounts in arrears for over two years remains high in the sample group (50 households). Dr  Kenna said: “It shows that the most destructive effects of the banking crisis are, in fact, still being exacted on ordinary households. This study makes a very valuable contribution to the public interest in addressing this ongoing challenge”. Read more about the launch and download the reports via the Citizens Information Board.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

 Council of Europe finds that Ireland violated the European Social Charter the right of the family to social, legal and economic protection.The Council of Europe has today upheld a Collective Complaint that Ireland has violated Article 16 of the European Social Charter on the right of the family to social, legal and economic protection. Adequate housing is viewed as an integral element of this right.The Council of Europe held that Ireland failed to take sufficient and timely measures to ensure the right to housing of an adequate standard for a significant number of families living in local authority housing, and therefore there is a violation of Article 16 of the Charter in this respect.This Collective Complaint was facilitated by the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy at NUI Galway, working in association with local tenants groups in the main cities, law centres and Non-Government Organisations, involved the submission of detailed evidence of housing conditions on local authority estates, with associated human rights standards. Some 90% of the estimated 130,000 Irish local authority tenant households live on estates.Dr Padraic Kenna, Director of the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy at NUI Galway today welcomed this landmark decision, saying: "We have been working with tenants groups, law centres, national and international human rights agencies, over the past five years. Our students at the University researched the European human rights norms. This decision marks a significant historical development, which could enhance the development of Irish State housing policy."The Irish State does not support any national organisation of its tenants, who could be consulted or participate in framing legislation or housing policy, unlike almost every other European country. There was no opportunity, within Ireland, for these tenants to have the collective issues examined in any systematic way. They could submit this European Complaint only through other organisations. Many issues faced by Irish local authority tenants could be resolved by tenants associations.Dr Kenna added: "Of course, nothing in this complaint was intended to diminish respect for the valuable and dedicated work of national and local authority housing professionals, or the committed work of voluntary and community groups and public representatives, who work tirelessly to improve the situation of local authority tenants in Ireland. This issue is more complex. State housing in Ireland generates a surplus after maintenance costs are deducted from rents. A recent report from the National Oversight and Audit Commission (NOAC) shows that local authorities generated a surplus of €40 million in 2014, from their housing, used to cross-subsidise other services."The Council of Europe noted that complete statistics on the condition of local authority housing have not been collated since 2002. It also noted that a significant number of regeneration programmes have not been completed, leaving many local authority tenants in unacceptable housing conditions.Significantly, housing standards for 30,000 tenants of approved housing bodies are now regulated by the Residential Tenancies Board, but there is no such regulation of State tenancies. Indeed, the State is both the landlord and the regulator on housing standards in local authority housing.The Irish State must report to the Council of Europe within 12 months on how it has addressed this violation.The full decision and a summary is available at: https://mycloud.coe.int/index.php/s/gmW0htvgNt9hFhN#pdfviewer

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Dr Padraic Kenna was Project Director and lead author of this study which focuses on the protection of the right to housing in EU countries and in particular on evictions from primary residences. It provides an overview and analysis of available data and trends regarding housing evictions, and establishes the reasons for and impacts of eviction. The report focuses in particular on the link between eviction and homelessness. It also reviews the measures put in place by Member States to prevent evictions and enable early interventions. In addition, the study suggests ways to improve data collection and monitoring of evictions. On the basis of this research and analysis, a number of recommendations are suggested to promote protection of the right to housing and homelessness prevention in the context of evictions.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The School of Law, NUI Galway hosted a highly successful international conference entitled ‘The Future is Now! - eConveyancing and Title Registration at the Galway Bay Hotel, Salthill, Galway on the 7th and 8th April 2017. The conference brought together national and international experts from around the world in the area of eConveyancing and title registration. The conference was chaired by the Honourable Miss Justice Mary Laffoy of the Supreme Court and Mr. Justice Michael Peart of the Court of Appeal. Keynote speaker was Professor J.C.W. Wylie, Irish expert in land and conveyancing law. Pictured at the conference were, from left, Dr Padraic Kenna, NUI Galway School of Law, conference organiser, Sandra Murphy, NUI Galway School of Law, conference organiser, Professor J.C.W. Wylie, Keynote Speaker and Peter McGarvey, Solicitor, RDJ, conference sponsors.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Dr Padraic Kenna of the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy had an op ed in the Irish Times of 23 February on a new bill to provide human rights protections in home reposession cases.  The Keeping People in their Homes Bill 2017 was presented for the First Reading by Kevin Moran TD on Thursday 24th February 2017. The Bill provides Irish courts with a statutory base to effectively conduct proportionality assessments in possession orders related to mortgages arrears. Read more: Text of the Bill: Keeping People in their Homes Bill 2017 Explanatory Memorandum: Keeping People in their Homes Bill 2017 Memorandum

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The end of the Irish lending boom has left many individuals and families with unsustainable levels of personal debt.  The Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy (CHLRP) together with the ICELand the Open Society Justice Initiative has organised a series of seminars to examine how the Unfair Contract Terms in Consumer Contracts Directive (UCTD) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights might assist borrowers in debt related proceedings.  Based on the UCTD and the Charter, the CJEU has been developing the law in this area, which can be applied by the Irish courts. Speakers Marguerite Angelari, Senior Attorney, Open Society Justice Initiative – The debtor as a consumer, an overview of the key provisions of the UCTD and relevant case law Dr Padraic Kenna, NUI Galway –The key role of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in debt cases Gary Fitzgerald BL, Director of the ICEL – Getting to the European courts, the role of the preliminary reference procedure in debt litigation Madeleine Thornton, Solicitor– Putting this into practice – protecting consumer rights Seminars have taken place in Dublin on 10th November,  2016, Galway on 25th November, 2016 and Cork on 7th December. Upcoming Seminars: Limerick - 22nd February 2017 Waterford - 23rd March 2017 For details and papers see the ICEL website.