Central Bank: Lenders 'have clear guidance' to protect distressed borrowers                    

Central Bank: Lenders 'have clear guidance' to protect distressed borrowers                    

Photo: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

The Central Bank has stepped up its warnings for lenders to behave as many households struggle to pay mortgages and bills amid the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Its director-general Derville Rowland said that lenders know that they must adhere to a body consumer protections, including codes for mortgage arrears and other debt. 

She said that lenders "have clear guidance" on ways to behave toward distressed customers and they must adhere to "a suite of consumer protections". 

The Central Bank said that lenders are obliged to tailor solutions to distressed customers that are "appropriate and sustainable for the borrower’s individual circumstances".

“Consumer and investor protection is embedded in every area of our work," Ms Rowland said. 

"The stability of the system, and the resilience of firms within it, are as essential in protecting consumers and investors as our statutory codes of conduct, assertive supervision and robust enforcement powers," she said.

The comments come as mortgage and debt brokers have raised fears about the emergence of a new arrears crisis, as people lose their jobs or face reduced income amid the Covid-19 crisis.

The banks have said that they will deal with distressed mortgage borrowers on a case by case basis, even as the extended mortgage payment breaks come to an end.

Following the huge spike in mortgage arrears in the wake of the financial crisis, the Central Bank put in place its Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears for lenders.

The code governs the way banks can interact with customers.                   

The Central Bank has repeatedly said that banks will be expected to adhere to the codes.

"Our existing arrears handling frameworks, including the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears, will apply in the normal manner," Ms Rowland said.

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