Abhaile Scheme

This page deals with two separate schemes now existence to provide set fees to accountants to assist borrowers.

In addition to the existing mortgage forbearance advice scheme, in 2016 the Government announced the Abhaile scheme. This scheme aims to help people who are insolvent, and are in serious mortgage arrears on their home, to access independent expert financial and/or legal advice and assistance, which will help them to find the best available solutions, with priority to remaining in their homes where possible.

Abhaile scheme

Accountants panel

This scheme is co-ordinated by the Department of Justice and Equality (“DJE”) and the Department of Social Protection (“DSP”), in co-operation with the relevant agencies including the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (“MABS”), the Insolvency Service of Ireland (“ISI”), the Legal Aid Board (“LAB”), and the Citizens Information Board (“CIB”).

Under the Abhaile scheme, eligible borrowers can be referred for independent financial advice and assistance to a panel of accountants, which is currently being established. The panel will be composed of accountants who agree to provide specified fixed services free of charge to the borrower, at fixed fees payable by the scheme, in accordance with these terms and conditions. The fixed services which may be provided consist of financial advice and assistance are outlined in detail in the scheme terms & conditions.

The Citizens Information Board (CIB), on behalf of the Department of Social Protection, is responsible for establishing and maintaining the accountants panel under the scheme.  The DSP has contacted the relevant accountancy bodies, including Chartered Accountants Ireland, to seek expressions of interest from their members who wish to participate in the panel. Members in practice will be asked, as part of completing their 2017 annual return, to indicate their willingness to participate in this scheme.

Full details on the terms and conditions pertaining to this scheme are available at Abhaile terms conditions for accountants DSP 250717 Final and all interested Practitioners are advised to read these in full prior to indicating their willingness to participate in the Scheme.

Abhaile terms and conditions have been updated in October 2020 these are the October 2020 T&C.

Mortgage forbearance advice scheme

The Central Bank of Ireland, code of conduct on mortgage arrears, which has being effective from 1 January 2011, sets out how mortgage lenders must treat borrowers in or facing mortgage arrears. The code applies to the mortgage lending activities of all regulated entities, except Credit Unions, operating in the State, including mortgage lenders authorised, registered or licensed in another EU or EEA member state. The code applies to mortgage loans on principal private residences.

A protocol was developed which addressed the arrangements regarding the provision of specified independent financial advice to mortgage borrowers arising from the advanced forbearance process with respect to a mortgage secured on a primary residence. At the advanced stages of the code of conduct on mortgage arrears MARP process, some co-operating borrowers are offered a long term forbearance arrangement for their mortgage. The long term forbearance options covered by the protocol, where they are offered by a participating lender, may include one or more of the options as outlined below (or variations of same):

  • Split mortgages
  • Term extensions
  • Long term interest only
  • Mortgage to rent (or potentially Lease)
  • Trade down forbearance
  • Equity participation
  • Voluntary sale forbearance 
  • Repossession (co-operating customer)

Once the borrower has been presented with a final long term forbearance option for consideration, the lender advises the borrower to take independent financial advice on the proposed arrangement and that, if the borrower wishes to avail of the option, that the lender will pay €250 (plus VAT where applicable) to an accountant for the provision of specified independent financial advice directly to the borrower. The specified advice assignments is provided by a panel of practicing accountants and this advisory scheme has been promoted to accountants by the recognised accountancy bodies (including Chartered Accountants Ireland) since 2012. Further details on this scheme are available at helpsheet  H1 & H2 at https://www.charteredaccountants.ie/Members/In-Practice/Helpsheets

Please note that Chartered Accountants Ireland practitioners are free to participate in one or both of these schemes, and should register their interest accordingly with the Institute as outlined in this document.

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