‘Banned’ self-cert loans set for return

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A new lender is looking to bring back self-certified mortgages at the start of next year.

The FCA banned so-called ‘liar loans’ in the Mortgage Market Review.

However, Graeme Wingate, the founder of unsecured lender Quick Loans, is looking to bypass UK regulation by setting up in an Eastern European country, the identity of which he would not disclose.

While the new lender, selfcert.co.uk, will not have to abide by UK regulation, it will have to adhere to the incoming Mortgage Credit Directive, although it is less strict on rules around creditworthiness and income verification.

The directive merely states that the borrower’s income must be “appropriately verified, including through reference to independently verifiable documentation when necessary”, whereas the MMR explicitly states “a firm must not accept self-certification of income”.

Wingate says: “We’re setting up a new company [in Eastern Europe]. The regulator out there has been very friendly and helpful to us, walking us through the process of getting a licence. It is quite a straightforward process.”

Wingate plans to passport into the UK under the Electronic Commerce Directive.

An FCA spokeswoman says: “A firm located in an EEA Member State can provide a lending service under the Electronic Commerce Directive to UK consumers, but the service has to be provided solely at a distance and online.

“This service, however, would not be regulated by the FCA and if something went wrong, the FCA is not generally able to intervene. Additionally there would be no recourse to the compulsory jurisdiction of the UK’s Financial Ombudsman Service.”

Wingate says he expects to obtain a lending licence within the next week.

Self-cert loans were initially meant to be for self-employed borrowers or those with irregular income but in 2007 they accounted for over 50 per cent of new lending, according to the FCA.

Trinity Financial product and communications manager Aaron Strutt says: “Self-cert mortgages are a real blast from the past and many brokers will be surprised that there is even a chance they will be available again.

“It is hard to see how self-cert can play a part in a modern financial market, even if a lender can get around the rules by operating online and via another country.”

The lender expects to launch in mid-January.

The announcement on Quick Loans’ website:

We are pleased to announce that as of January 2016 we will be at the forefront of bringing back self-cert mortgages to the UK through our new sister site.

Self-cert mortgages are important vehicles for those who are self-employed and want to get on the property ladder. Without them, those who went in to self-employment have often found themselves unable to get a mortgage – we want to reverse that.

We believe that the products were unfairly blamed for the banking crisis – in reality they actually had little or nothing to do with the crash, on this side of the Atlantic anyway. Blatant fraud (often by brokers) and mortgage backed security swaps in which banks lost their common sense were the real reason that the banks crashed. We intend to avoid both of those major factors.

The majority of people on self-cert mortgages did not default and are up to date on their repayments. We are confident that our own assessment process will reduce fraud as much as humanly possible and well within manageable levels.

Quick Loans Ltd has recently purchased the domain name SelfCert.co.uk – it is from this site we and our partners will slowly look towards proving the concept and viability of bringing back these products to the market on a larger scale. We expect interest to be high from day one, so much so that we don’t expect to meet demand on our own.

We will be in a position to release more details on this in the coming weeks with a launch date of mid-January 2016.