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Man fights for his home in his 70th year

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Man fights for his home in his 70th year thumbnail

A TULLAMORE man has hit out at a bank saying it is threatening to put him out of his Rhode home in his 70th year.
Tom Roche is in mortgage arrears with Permanent TSB after borrowing from them to build a house on a site in Rathcobican in 2002.
He borrowed €150,000 and was given a ten-year mortgage at the age of 59 at a time when he could well afford the €1,400 a month repayments.
Mr Roche, a carpenter and cabinet maker by trade, was employed full-time by his own charity, Just Forests at the time but funding for the organisation dried up when the recession hit.
He began to fall into arrears when he lost his income and is now engaged in a bitter fight with the bank.
He says they are now seeking €165,000, including "penalties", from him even though he has paid them €70,000 over the years.
Mr Roche also says a substantial offer was made to Permanent TSB through a personal insolvency arrangement (PIA).
“I put the house on the market, I got three bids on it and I offered every one of the bids to TSB and they refused every one of them," said Mr Roche.
“I am actually struggling at almost 70 years of age to hold onto my house," said the 69-year-old native of Chapel Street.
He says an offer of €130,000 was made to the bank and he was prepared to give up the home he built himself if he was required to do so.
Through an agreed PIA, negotiated with the help of a paid personal insolvency practitioner (PIP) a debtor can have unsecured debt written off and a certain amount can be paid monthly for up to six years.
Most people subject PIA's can remain living in their own homes, something Mr Roche is now keen to do because he has a carpenter and furniture restoration workshop behind his house.
“If they take this away from me my workshop goes, so my source of income, my livelihood, is gone as well. So there's a lot at stake here," said Mr Roche.
He has spent money refurbishing his house and in addition to working at his craft, he says he will let rooms through Aibnb.
He was paying the mortgage until 2012 when the economic "shit hit the fan" and Just Forests ran into financial difficulty.
Mr Roche says he is just one of many people who suffered a similar fate during the downturn in those couple of years.
“I'm a prime example of a victim of that. I was very well financed at that stage. I had the likes of Concern and Trocaire funding me and they were delighted to fund me because they loved the work I did and I always delivered," he detailed.
He is angry at the banks and blames them for his own, and the country's, difficulties. "Where do I move at this stage of my life?" he asked.
“They created the problem for a lot of us. I was very financially secure when the banks did that dirt on the country."
Just Forests campaigned for the use of responsibly sourced timber all over the world and Mr Roche, a divorced man with no children, worked as an environmental justice campaigner for nearly 30 years.
“I kept that up all my life and now here I am at almost 70 and I'm looking for justice.  All my life I've looked for justice for people and the planet so future generations would benefit from good forest management so that industry would benefit from a constant supply of responsible timber," he stated.
“I have to fight my own case now and I'm fighting the bank."

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