Govan Law Centre (GLC) has found that the average Scottish homeowner in three or more months arrears of their mortgage has £816 added to their account in 'arrears charges' - the bulk of which appear to be unfair in terms of industry regulatory rules - with one fifth of homeowners incurring arrears charges in excess of £2,000.
'Sub-prime lenders' continue to be the worst offenders imposing multiple charges most of which are repetitive, unnecessary and excessive. For example some 'sub-prime lenders' can levy some or all of the following charges each month: unpaid direct debit fee £30, arrears fees £45, telemessage fee £25, questionnaire fee £75, referral to solicitors £50, repossession fee, £29.38, litigation management fee £115, and late payment fee £25.
GLC estimate that such charges in current mortgage arrears cases across the UK could represent just under £400m - the bulk of which are arguably unfair and contrary to industry rules. Over the last three years the City regulator, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), has imposed a number of substantial fines on lenders who have failed to treat their mortgage customers in arrears fairly.
GLC is calling upon the regulator to consider requiring both 'sub-prime' and 'prime' lenders to undertake a review of their active mortgage accounts with a view to voluntarily reimbursing (by way of a credit to the consumer's mortgage account) all of their customers who have been charged unnecessary, unfair, repetitive or excessive charges. To some extent this process is currently happening for the mass misselling of Payment Protection Insurance by authorised firms and financial intermediaries.