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HOMEOWNERS who fall behind in their mortgage payments will benefit from a revised Code of Conduct for Mortgage Arrears just published by the Central Bank.

The code sets out the requirements for lenders dealing with people whose mortgage payments have fallen behind and provides strong consumer protection to ensure they are treated in a fair and transparent manner by the lender.

It clarifies when a borrower is considered to be cooperating with the lender and insists that lenders must give warning letters of at least 20 business days' notice.

Lenders must also have a board-approved communications policy to protect mortgage holders against unnecessarily frequent contacts and harassment.

They must provide a Standard Financial Statement at the earliest opportunity and help borrowers to complete it, while offering a temporary arrangement to stop the arrears from deepening while the SFS is being completed.

Taking away a tracker rate must be only a last resort, in cases where the only alternative option is repossession.

Cooperating borrowers must be given at least eight months from the date that arrears first arise before the lenders can initiate legal action.