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Foreclosure legislation goes to the vote this week

Foreclosures
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Government legislation affording extra protections to distressed borrowers with their homes on the line will go the plenum for a vote later this week, it emerged on Monday.

The first of the bills concerns authorising the supreme court to appoint judges to fast-track cases where mortgagors challenge foreclosure proceedings against their property. The second bill gives expanded jurisdictions to the Financial Ombudsman.

Mortgaged properties eligible for such judicial fast-tracking are those valued at under €350,000.

In parliament on Monday, the finance ministry came with a last-minute amendment of its own – where for such cases already filed in court, the litigant may apply for his or her case to qualify for the fast-track process provided that the case has yet to reach the hearing stage.

For their part, MPs proposed that the first bill include a clause explicitly defining the maximum number of days for such trials to be completed. But their idea got the thumbs-down from Giorgos Panteli, permanent secretary at the finance ministry.

Lawmakers could still insert this clause in their own amendments, a number of which have been drafted by the parties.

Chair of the House finance committee Christiana Erotokritou (Diko) welcomed the new government legislation despite its flaws. On the bill regarding the expanded powers of the Financial Ombudsman, she noted that the official would now be able to consider cases involving business premises (not just residential properties) as well as cases involving terminated loans.

Akel MP Andreas Kafkalias asserted that the two government bills essentially change nothing. He said legislation governing foreclosures “is still tailor-made for the banks”.

Another idea that MPs are toying with is to allow mortgaged properties whose value may have exceeded €350,000 due to re-zoning, to qualify for the fast-track judicial process.

But government officials again voiced skepticism.

The Greens’ Stavros Papadouris proposed that the €350,000 limit for taking recourse to the Financial Ombudsman be upped to €500,000.

He also revealed that one of the party amendments that will be put to a vote at the upcoming House plenary will call for a moratorium on repossessions until January 31 of 2024.

 

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