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Fri, 27 November 2020

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Lenders commit to ongoing support for mortgage customers

Building Societies Association

4 min read Partner content

FCA publishes final guidance

Lenders have today committed to renewed support for mortgage customers facing financial difficulty as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) confirms an extension to the mortgage payment deferral scheme until 31 July 2021, with final applications due by 31 March 2021. The extension gives access to customers who have not yet sought support, or who have had a payment deferral of less than six months.  

A total of 2.6 million mortgage payment deferrals have so far been granted since the start of the pandemic.  Just under 140,000 were still in place at the end of October. Of those mortgage customers whose payment deferral has come to an end, evolving industry analysis suggests that over 80 per cent have now returned to making repayments.

Customers will now have until 31 March to apply for an initial or a further payment deferral. After that date, they will be able to extend existing deferrals to no later than 31 July 2021. Customers who are newly impacted by coronavirus and who want to benefit from the maximum six months available should apply in good time before their February 2021 payment is due. The final guidance allows payment deferrals that are not consecutive, including for customers in arrears or receiving tailored support.

The FCA has clarified that this updated guidance applies retrospectively from 1 November 2020, coming fully in to force on 20 November 2020. If a customer came to the end of a payment deferral between 31 October and when this latest amended guidance comes into force, and have not had six months of payment deferrals, they will be eligible to apply for a retrospective payment deferral to cover this period.

Eric Leenders, Managing Director of Personal Finance at UK Finance, said: 

“Lenders are continuing to provide unprecedented levels of support to help customers through the Covid-19 crisis, with over 2.6 million mortgage payment deferrals already granted. As the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt across the country, the banking and finance industry stands ready to deliver ongoing assistance to those in need.  

“All customers whose finances are impacted by the coronavirus will be eligible for a maximum of six months of payment deferrals on their mortgage. While it will always be in the long-term interest of customers who are able to do so to resume making payments, all lenders will be providing tailored support for anyone who is still struggling. There are a range of different ways to get in touch, including through online chat, social media and mobile and banking apps. As you will appreciate phone lines are very busy at this time and we would encourage only those customers who are facing an immediate issue with their finances to call their provider in the first instance.”

Robin Fieth, Chief Executive of the Building Societies Association (BSA), said:

“Whilst the best advice is always to pay your mortgage if you are able to, anyone who is struggling to do this could benefit from the extension to the mortgage payment deferral scheme or other tailored support that is available from lenders. It’s important that customers discuss their situation with their lender as soon as they become concerned, and before they miss a mortgage payment. Lenders will do everything in their power to help borrowers in financial difficulty at this challenging time – keeping people in their homes is the objective.   

“The FCA has been in listening mode throughout the pandemic and their final guidance includes industry suggestions, specifically the ability to top up to six months even if a borrower has had two shorter deferral periods already and not excluding borrowers who have missed a payment after a deferral period from the scheme.”      
Interest-only and part-and-part customers whose mortgage matured between 20 March 2020 and 31 October 2020 can now also take advantage of a mortgage payment deferral after their mortgage has matured and will still be able to delay repaying their capital until 31 October 2021.

It will always be in the best interest of customers to resume making payments on their mortgage if they are able to do so. However, for those customers who have already taken a total of six months of payment deferrals and continue to need support, all lenders will offer tailored options, taking into account their personal circumstances including any local Covid-19 restrictions that may be imposed.

Firms will not enforce repossession and should not seek, or enforce, a warrant for possession before 31 January 2021, unless there are exceptional circumstances such as a customer requesting that proceedings continue.

Mortgage payment deferrals cover both individual borrowers and those with Buy to Let mortgages to allow landlords to pass on the benefit to tenants who may have been impacted by Covid-19.


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