Vulture fund struggles: ‘I don’t know where to go from here’

A landowner in Co. Westmeath is once again doing his best to prevent a vulture fund from selling his family’s farmland at an online auction expected to take place next week.

The man in question, Hugh Reynolds, had placed an offer to buy the 44ac of land from the company but had been rebuffed.

This comes following at least one previous attempt by the fund in question to sell the land earlier in the year, which AgriLand previously covered back in February.

Also Read: Landowner in race against time to prevent vulture fund selling his farm

Reynolds spoke to AgriLand to explain what had since transpired and voice his sense of helplessness with the issue.

“They have my land up again next week – this is either the second or third time, I’m not sure. They had it up at the beginning of the year a couple of times and took it down,” he said.

I put an offer on the table and they just refused me point blank. They seem to be insisting on selling this. I have to get the message out there that this land is not for sale.

The Westmeath man believes that the vulture fund in question bought the loan from the banks for 20 or 30% of the original value.

The previous auctions did not go ahead because the firm removed the land offer from the site, Reynolds said. However, the fund’s latest attempt is not far off.

“What’s going to happen now, I don’t know – but the clock is ticking. Next Thursday, November 15, it’s up.

I haven’t an awful lot of experience in this area; I don’t know where to go from here. The only thing is to get it out there that it’s not for sale and that’s it.

Reynolds said that he is in a state of limbo over the matter: “You don’t know what every day is going to bring.”

The landowner said that the company would not engage, saying that it was its terms or nothing, describing the firm as “a faceless outfit”.

“I went into their office in Dublin and they wouldn’t entertain me, they wouldn’t talk to me but they’re a very ruthless outfit.

“I can’t find out what’s going on; this is the thing – this auction could take place and I’ve no control over it; that’s the problem.”

Reynolds also alleged that, for the auction itself, no one with the same surname as him is allowed to register.

A bidding deposit of €4,500 is required to submit a bid online.

Reynolds added that, once the company bought the loan, there was “no such thing as dealings”. A representative just arrived and told him the land would be put up for sale, he claimed.

“There’s no such thing as making payments. They just want to sell for whatever. It’s not as if you can go in and set up an agreement with them.

“This is taking place and you register online and you place your bid. I – the landowner – have absolutely no control over it.

They have it advertised as a vacant possession – which is untrue.

“You can imagine your land being up and you not having any say in it. What’ll happen I don’t know. If it goes ahead at least people will know this land is not for sale.”

The vulture fund in question has been contacted and AgriLand is awaiting a response.