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EBS clients mistakenly told their mortgages in arrears

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A MORTGAGE lender has blamed an error in its systems for wrongly treating a number of customers as being in arrears.

The mortgage holders had been overpaying their home loans in a bid to speed up the payments and reduce the overall cost.

But when they wanted to revert to the previous amount, EBS regarded the customers as being in arrears.

In at least two cases, clients were told to fill out a detailed standard financial statement (SFS) setting out their income and all their monthly outgoings.

They were also told they would be entered into the mortgage arrears resolution process (MARP) -- the defined process that the Central Bank insists lenders follow when a person is in arrears, or about to fall behind on their payments.

This is despite the fact that these homeowners were not behind on their repayments.

EBS, which is part of AIB, said it had fixed the problem.

But consumer advocate Brendan Burgess has highlighted the issue for mortgage holders.

He said that homeowners who overpaid their mortgages have the right to revert to the original repayment schedule.

One couple said they took out an €85,000 mortgage with EBS in 1999. It was not due to be paid off until 2024.

But they decided to double the monthly repayments and use some spare funds to pay down some of the capital.

This meant the mortgage would be paid off by 2016.

However, the Dublin couple, who are expecting a second baby in June, asked EBS to reduce the monthly payments to the original amount agreed.

Payslips

The man said: "The head office contacted me and said that I was restructuring the loan and the code of conduct for mortgage arrears was applicable.

"They said that I had to fill out a 12-page financial statement, provide three payslips and three months of my current bank account statements. I resisted this as my mortgage is not and has never been in arrears. I have never missed a repayment."

The man, who did not want to be named, had to write to the EBS chief executive Fergus Murphy and contact this newspaper before the matter was resolved.

Another case emerged on the askaboutmoney.com website.

EBS said: "It appears there was a breakdown in communication at some point in the process."

Irish Independent