Dublin family to stay in their home after vulture fund's repossession case is struck out

The couple at the centre of the case had built up arrears of €55,000 on their mortgage.

By Ray Managh

A JUDGE WHO is regularly warning banks that they should be much more careful in what they are doing has refused a major loan company possession of a County Dublin couple’s home.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane struck out a claim by Tanager DAC to repossess the home of Adam and Anna Laska, 8 Chapel Farm Terrace, Lusk.

She accepted the argument advanced by barrister Paul O’Grady on behalf of the Laska family that Tanager had no right to the possession order they sought on the basis it had never been the registered owner of the mortgage charge over the property.

Tanager, of Clanwilliam Square, Grand Canal Quay, Dublin, is an American-owned private equity fund which snapped up more than 2,000 distressed home loans at discount rates from Bank of Scotland (BOS) following its cross-border merger seven years ago.

More than 90% of the loans had been two years or more in arrears and Tanager had sought to take back the Laska family home due to an arrears build-up of more than €55,000 on their mortgage.

Not registered

O’Grady, who appeared with Damien Sheridan Solicitors, earlier told the court the Laska family was disputing the bank’s right to recover possession on the grounds BOS had never been registered as owner of the charge it had sold to Tanager.

Judge Linnane said that in 2007 Bank of Scotland Ireland (BOSI) had granted a loan of €312,000 to the Laskas secured by a charge on their home in favour of BOSI.

When the cross-border merger had taken place in December 2010, BOSI had been dissolved and various loans and securities held by it, including the Laskas’, had been transferred to BOS which had never been registered with the Property Registration Authority (PRA) as owner of the charge against the Laska homestead.

Judge Linnane said Tanager had claimed that following the cross-border merger, BOS had “stepped into the shoes” of BOSI taking over the rights and obligations relating to all loans and debts then due to BOSI.

In April 2014, BOS sold on and transferred, among others, the Laska loan and security to Tanager.

The judge said that while Tanager had registered as owner of the charge with the PRA, prior to taking out proceedings against the Laskas in May 2015, this did not remedy the fact and omission that BOS had not previously registered ownership of the charge before transferring and selling on the loans and securities to Tanager.

In striking out Tanager’s bid for repossession of the Laska home, Judge Linnane said this did not affect the liability of the defendants in respect of their overall debt of €305,000 owed to Tanager.

Tanager has already appealed a similar earlier order of Judge Linnane in a separate case and that is due to be heard in the High Court on July 25. It is likely to serve notice of appeal in the Laska case which would stay Judge Linnane’s order pending the outcome of the original case.

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