I just read an article regarding tracker mortgages redress. I was wondering if you have the details of where to get my mortgage looked at to see if we could qualify for redress.
Ms B.B., email
When I got your query earlier this month, I admit my first instinct was to put it to one side and wonder how anyone could still be in the dark on tracker mortgages.
That was before AIB – Ireland's largest mortgage lender – admitted that it had "found" a further 1,100 customers who were paying over the odds for their home loans. This issue arose at the bank's EBS and Haven subsidiaries and dates back to when the homeloans were first drawn down.
The fact that AIB discovered some other customers at these two subsidiaries had been given tracker mortgages that were cheaper than they should have been does not put any better gloss on the disgraceful episode.
Nor does the fact that the issues date back to a time before AIB acquired EBS – and Haven – in 2011 at the direction of its majority shareholder, the State.
The first thing to say is that not all trackers have had issues. But if you have concerns in your case, there is a process
The tracker mortgage scandal first raised its head in 2012. By October 2015, it was accepted that the situation was so pervasive among Irish lenders that the Central Bank ordered them all to review their entire loan books to identify any issues.
That is almost five full years ago – and one must assume banks were doing at least some preparatory work in the previous three years since the issue first raised its head. The Central Bank actually published its “final report” on the issue a year ago this month.
And still we are seeing new cases. It is unconscionable that AIB is still finding cases. The bank has had close to 1,200 working days – even assuming it did not consider the issue a significant enough breach of customer trust to warrant working weekends – to work through all its mortgage accounts.
Make sure everything is in writing – even notes of any phones calls you have – and make sure you get names of anyone you are required to deal with over the phone
The only reasonable conclusion is that it cared little enough that it was prepared to indicate to the Central Bank it had concluded its review process when, in fact, it hadn’t. And if it hasn’t, how confident can borrowers be that any of the banks have?
So how do you go about checking? The first thing to say is that not all trackers have had issues. But if you have concerns in your case, there is a process.
Contact your lender in the first instance and go through their complaints process – including any appeal structure. There is no way of sidestepping this stage even if you are at odds with your bank.
Make sure everything is in writing – even notes of any phones calls you have – and make sure you get names of anyone you are required to deal with over the phone. You will need to outline the issue and give as much detail as possible of discussions around the loan, its drawdown and any subsequent change in interest rate, rate switch, etc.
Personally, I would copy the Central Bank on your initial correspondence so that it is on notice and that the lender is aware that the regulator is in the loop.
If you are still unsatisfied at the end of the process, you can complain to the financial services ombudsman – though at this stage, it may be considered out of time – or take legal action. You'd want to be very sure of your ground to undertake that last option.
Please send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice. No personal correspondence will be entered into.