A Donegal woman has spoken of her shock after being told by several mortgage providers they are no longer offering loans to those working in Derry and paid in sterling.
In a move expected to affect thousands of cross-border workers, new EU rules around lending - introduced in Ireland over the past fortnight - mean that such loans can now be classed as ‘foreign currency mortgages’.
There is now growing concern that a number of major banks and other mortgage providers are unwilling to even offer quotes to sterling earners. The new rules stem from the European Mortgage Credit Directive, and have been cited by several lenders as the reason for the change in position.
One woman living in Inishowen, and who inquired about changing providers, said: “I checked on a comparison website and contacted the bank which was top of the list. I was providing them with details and when I said my wages in sterling they said, ‘listen we can’t take the application any further because of new legislation brought in’.
“ I came off the phone and then contacted another provider and asked them if they were lending to people earning sterling and the answer was no. At that stage I was just fed up.
“The thing is, as a consumer this just wipes out all competition and gives the banks that are lending total monopoly so they can dictate the rate at which they lend. As a consumer it’s not fair.”
She added: “We are European citizens. If I was earning in Spain, would that make a difference? It’s just crazy. Everybody who is living in Inishowen, they just don’t have the industry of Derry City. In rural parts of the border you have to travel to the nearest town for employment.”
A spokesman for the Department of Finance in Dublin said the Mortgage Credit Directive (MCD) was put in place to provide “enhanced protections to consumer borrowers when entering into residential mortgage contracts” but “the decision to on whether or not to provide foreign currency mortgages remains a commercial matter for an individual lender.”