The Financial Conduct Authority warned recently that it felt that some lenders weren’t doing as much as they could be when it came to treating mortgage borrowers who had fallen into arrears.
That’s not good news and a worrying development for borrowers who expect their lenders to support them through difficult times.
The FCA was concerned that some lenders are leaving borrowers to complete complicated arrears forms on their own, and that they were also taking an inconsistent approach to the way they dealt with arrears.
Both of these practices will add unnecessary stress on borrowers who are already struggling to get their payments up to date, and it’s important that these failings are addressed as soon as possible and certainly before we start to see any real increases in interest rates.
Borrowers have been insulated in recent years because interest rates have been so low, and even those falling into arrears have seen these arrears rise quite slowly compared with the position nine or ten years ago. But any rises in interest rates in 2019 will see arrears start to increase more quickly, and this will put even more pressure on those who can’t make payments on time.
Of course it’s also really important that borrowers who are in arrears, or who think they are going to be unable to keep up with mortgage payments, contact their lenders as soon as possible. It’s an awful lot easier for a lender to help someone who calls to say they might not be able to afford next month’s mortgage payment than it is to help someone who hasn’t made a mortgage payment for six months.
Most lenders do genuinely want to help their customers but they can only do so if they are able to have an honest and open dialogue with them. So if you are struggling to make ends meet and feel that you might be going to miss a payments in the next few weeks please, please pick up the phone to your lender now.