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No hit to credit record for those who get mortgage break off bank

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Paschal Donohoe. Picture: Collins

Paschal Donohoe. Picture: Collins

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Paschal Donohoe. Picture: Collins

A deal is being hammered out between the Central Bank and main lenders so people who avail of a Covid-19 mortgage payment break will not end up with a black mark on their credit record.

And the three-month payment breaks will be available to those whose mortgages are owned by vulture funds.

The Central Bank runs the official central credit register that stores personal and credit information on loans of €500 or more.

Following a meeting between the five main banks and the Central Bank, the regulator said it and the lenders were working to "develop practical measures so that the credit record of those who availed of a payment break would not be adversely affected during this extraordinary time".

And credit servicing firms that manage mortgages for vulture funds and non-bank mortgage lenders are to offer the three-month payment breaks.

These include Dilosk/ICS Mortgages, Finance Ireland, Investec Private Finance, Lapithus, Link Group, Mars Capital, Pepper and Start.

The meeting came after the five main banks agreed with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to allow business and personal customers, including buy-to-let mortgage holders, a payment break of up to three months.

Customers need to apply for a payment break, but the banks want to be able to put in place a simplified application process.

At the meeting, moves to make it easier to apply for a mortgage payment break were discussed, but nothing has been finalised on that.

The current form that someone seeking a payment break has to fill out is extremely long, with one adviser describing it as "torture" to complete.

Central Bank Governor Gabriel Makhlouf said the Central Bank expected all regulated firms, including banks, retail credit and credit servicing firms to take a consumer-focused approach and to act in their customers' best interests.

This is understood to be moving to simplifying the form for applying for Covid-19 mortgage forbearance.

Also discussed at the round-table meeting between the banks and the regulators is the fact that interest will continue to be added when someone avails of a mortgage payment break.

And credit unions said they were in discussions with the Central Bank to ensure regulatory rules did not stop them offering payment freezes and other forbearance measures.

Credit Union Development Association (Cuda) chief executive Kevin Johnson said the movement anticipated that the incomes of up to 100,000 members would be severely hit by the crisis.

Borrowers experiencing difficulties are offered reduced payments, interest only, payment freezes and loan extensions.

"While credit unions helped their members through the previous banking crisis, the scale of this crisis is even more challenging, and we are in discussions with the Central Bank to ensure capital requirements don't stifle any of the options that are in place."

Mr Johnson said the credit unions wanted to ensure borrowers were not penalised for missing loan payments, and that their long-term credit rating was not negatively affected.

Irish Independent