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Watchdog criticises lenders on arrears

The Financial Ombudsman Service has highlighted a rise in upheld complaints against mortgage lenders over arrears fees.

In its annual review, the FOS reveals an 11 per cent rise in mortgage complaints from 6,824 in 2007/08 to 7,602 in 2008/09. Fifty-eight per cent were against banks, 24 per cent against mortgage brokers, 10 per cent against building societies and 8 per cent against other parties, including IFAs. The FOS saw a rise in mortgage arrears complaints and also a significant increase in complaints about self-certification mortgages but does not disclose the specific figures.

The review highlights complaints about monthly management fees applied by lenders to accounts that have reached a certain level of arrears. It says: “During the year, we settled a significant proportion of cases in favour of the consumer where we found that fees had been applied incorrectly or had been charged for work that had not been done.”

The FOS says self-cert-related complaints are not straightforward. It says: “The central issue is the affordability of the mortgage arrangements. The consumer’s complaint is generally that they were encouraged to inflate their income when applying for a mortgage – or that the broker completed the application for them and included income details that were incorrect.”

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