New figures from the Financial Regulator shows that mortgage lenders held a total of 331 repossessed homes by the end of September. 110 properties were repossessed in the three months from June to September.

In the third quarter of the year, the Regulator says that 31 homes were repossessed during the quarter on foot of a court order while another 79 were repossessed after voluntary surrender or abandonment. Another 22 homes were sold during the quarter.

The Financial Regulator also said that 26,271 mortgage accounts, or 3.3% of the country's total mortgages, were in arrears for more than three months. This means that the percentage of households falling into arrears has more than doubled in the last 15 months. Of these 17,767, or 2.2%, were more than six months in arrears.

€4.8 billion was owed in relation to all accounts more than three months in arrears and €3.2 billion was owned in respect of accounts more than six months in arrears.

This is the first time such data has been collected from all the country's mortgage providers. The data is requested from the lenders on a quarterly basis and the Financial Regulator says it will provide regular and up to date market information regarding the number of borrowers who are having difficulties with their mortgage repayments.

Today's data also reveals that in the quarter to the end of September, mortgage lenders applied to court to commence proceedings in 491 cases. In these cases, arrears totalling €10m had built on mortgage loans totalling €118.4m.

During the three months from June to September, 218 enforcement proceedings were concluded. The Financial Regulator says that in 79 cases, the courts granted repossession orders which included six homes that were voluntarily surrendered and two that were abandoned.

The Regulator said that in the 139 remaining cases, 28 properties were voluntarily surrendered, ten were concluded by abandonment while 101 were settled either by renegotiating the mortgage or on other terms.

Today's figures cover principal residences, and do not cover second homes or investment properties.

The Irish Banking Federation said its members accounted for 15,647 of the mortgage accounts in arrears for more than 180 days. It argued that this level of arrears would normally be expected to give rise to legal action in most cases, and pointed out that court proceedings had been issued in only 18% of such cases.

'This clearly illustrates the extent to which initiatives such as the statutory Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears and the more recent IBF Pledge to Homeowners are having a beneficial impact,' it said. The IBF also said the regulator's data showed that sub-prime lenders accounted for just 2% of the total number of mortgage accounts, but they accounted for 42% of all repossessions.