Maybe you’ve heard about AIB’s Tracker Mortgage Redress on the radio. Or maybe somebody mentioned that if you had a mortgage with another bank, you could be owed some money from them.
Either way it probably seems like a complicated situation, but the fact is it’s a very simple one.
No matter what bank you’re with, if you were encouraged onto a mortgage scheme when there was an upcoming cheaper option in your contract, then you may have been ripped off and are entitled to compensation.
News of bad practice is coming out of different banks every day. At the very least you could have been affected by mistakes at Permanent TSB, AIB, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank or any number of other lending organisations. Some of these are offering small sums of compensation. But you could also be entitled to more than that.
WHAT IS THE TRACKER MORTGAGE REDRESS ALL ABOUT?
As far back as 2008, and even further in some cases, banks across Ireland were inducing customers to disentitle themselves from lower mortgage rates. This meant that many people were being overcharged and that they are owed large sums of money.
Permanent TSB and Springboard were previously brought to court for similar practices and though they initially appealed the decision, they let the matter drop when they reached the Supreme Court, effectively admitting fault in the matter.
If your mortgage plan outlined a fixed rate, and if you were moved onto a rate that was much less generous, then you should investigate whether you’re entitled to compensation.
HOW DO I FIND OUT IF I’M ENTITLED TO TRACKER MORTGAGE COMPENSATION?
The scandal is getting bigger every day. With more banks admitting fault and the list of affected customers getting bigger all the time, it’s fair to say that if you’ve had a mortgage over the last 10 years then you might have been ripped off.
As part of the AIB tracker mortgage redress, some customers have already been notified that they will receive compensation. If your bank has admitted similar fault, then they will likely offer a similar mortgage redress scheme.
However, in previous cases, such as ones with Permanent TSB, the compensation offered was not close to the amount that was actually owed, and many people found it necessary to pursue further legal action.
Central Bank have stated that over 8,200 people suffered as a result of all this and that figure is growing with each passing week.
It is important to remember that if your mortgage was wrongfully handled then you have the law on your side and you should pursue the matter to its legal resolution.
WHAT EXPERIENCE DOES ANTHONY JOYCE & CO. OFFER?
We have years of experience in dealing with the complexities of Irish property law. Shane O’Brien, Solicitor and Partner in Anthony Joyce & Co. dealt with a significant number of Tracker Mortgage cases for Permanent TSB customers.
Shane continues to oversee their outcome with the help of our legal team, so we understand that the problems involved aren’t just a matter numbers, but also that the wrong doing by banks could have had a very real affect on your life.
To get an idea of our perspective on the matter, listen to Shane’s recent interview on RTE Radio 1, or read the transcript below.
Have you been affected? Get in touch and we can start working on your case today.
The central bank has fined springboard (a lender that was owned by Permanent TSB) 4.5 Million Euro for wrongly moving borrowings off their low interest tracker loans. Springboard alone overcharged 222 of its customers, but it appears that the practice was widespread across the Irish banks during the recession.
Solicitor Shane O’Brien represents some of the people overcharged by Permanent TSB.
Shane…Can you remind us what happened to these tracker mortgage customers?
This situation arises from when people took out their mortgages, sometimes even before 2008, where they would have been on a fixed rate period, which is normal for most people at the start of a mortgage. Then, just prior to the expiry of the fixed rate period, when they were due to default onto the tracker rate they were contacted by the bank and essentially induced to break from a fixed rate onto what appeared to be a lower variable rate, without being informed of the potentially cheaper tracker rate down the road.
The practice was identified in part through the work of the financial advisor Padraic Kissane, but what happened in Permanent TSB and its subsidiary Springboard?
Springboard and Permanent TSB are one and the same in many ways.
What we saw with them was that people just at the point of looking to save a couple of hundred euro a month (which doesn’t seem like much, but if you take 300 a month and built that up to year, that’s 3,600 a year) were contacted and induced to switch their rates and disentitle them from their contractually entitled rate.
What happened then was a couple of customers who reported the matter to the financial ombudsman, went down that route, and the ombudsman found in their favour and Permanent TSB appealed that to the High Court, who again found in the customers favour, and Permanent TSB appealed that to the Supreme Court.
It’s only just about 2 years now in November 2014 that they were due to have it on for hearing in the Supreme Court when Permanent TSB withdrew their appeal, effectively admitting responsibility.
You represent a number of people who found themselves in this situation.
Sometimes these stories are best told through the hardship they suffered. As you say, a few thousand can be the difference between holding onto your home and not holding onto your home. What are the stories of the people you represent?
It crosses the entire range, from the very heavily effected, to people who’ve lost their homes… and its effected people for who the recession would not have been as bad as it ultimately was because of the actions of the bank. We’ve seen people having to emigrate. We’ve seen people unable to repair their homes and people unable to go on family holidays. I’ve sat with a client who’s told me about the unaffordability of classes for an autistic child. And we’ve had one client who actually went so far as to attempt suicide.
So it is, from the purely financial aspect to the life changing extent, hugely traumatic for these customers.
And it wasn’t limited to Permanent TSB and Springboard. Do we know the scale its effect customers in other banks?
No I don’t believe we do.
AIB have said that they have 3,000 effected customers. Recently they said 14 have lost their homes. But we don’t know that, and given the figures from Permanent TSB where 25+ people lost their homes, 14 would seem to be very low in my mind.
We have very little information as to what they are going to do to actually compensate people. Even so far, despite admitting responsibility and fault, they haven’t taken any steps to refund the amount of money that’s been overcharged to these people.
How would you characterise the attitude these banks have adopted to clients who think they might have been overcharged?
Highhanded would be the easy answer to that.
When you look at Permanent TSB, they produced a package saying we overcharged, saying here’s the amount we are putting toward your compensation, which is only 10% of the overcharge to start with.
It’s little more than the interest rate you get through a court case. People have even gone into arrears in their mortgages. They’ve used that overcharged amount to actually offset against the arrears. They’re not getting the benefit of the money they’ve gotten back.
How many of your clients are accepting the redress offered by the lenders and how many have decided the legal option?
In the way that Permanent TSB performed their redress method, people were in a position to accept what was put on offer, but not be limited by that. That at least allows them to put themselves toward the position had this not occurred.
As regards AIB, and the rest, be it Bank of Ireland of KBC (who I understand Central Bank is currently investigating) … we simply don’t know what stance they’re going to take.
When it comes to the overcharging aspect, this isn’t a case of what the banks should do – this is the customers money.
Central Bank fined Springboard 4.5 million. Are you reassured by the scale of that punishment?
It’s great to see. It’s great to see the regulator step in and implement a fine like that.
Does it help the customers effected? I don’t know, and it’s very difficult to say. The fine certainly doesn’t go to them.
Obviously, we don’t want to see a situation where the fine is so large it bankrupts the bank and prevents people being compensated.
But is it enough to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
You would hope so…
But in my view, I think the banks actually did act with intent to take steps to disentitle their customers from their contractual tracker rate.
I would think that measures need to be implemented by the Oireachtas to ensure this doesn’t happen again and to safeguard customers.