Have I a case over top-up mortgage that had no tracker option?

Q&A: Dominic Coyle

 

I have a tracker mortgage for €80,000 taken out for a self-build six-bedroom house. I had it for years and I wanted to finish the house so I needed more money. The bank explained to me that I could have a Oneplan Anytime to finish the house so they gave me a €40,000 loan and another €40,000 a year later.

It’s only now that I think I should have been offered a €160,000 on my tracker or I should have been told that this is variable rate and it’s not a mortgage, only another loan. This loan is bigger than my tracker mortgage and cost me a lot more money over the last 10 years – they were taken out in 2007 and 2008.

I have a complaint logged now for three years with Permanent TSB but they keep saying that they are looking into it. Have I got a case over the failure to offer me a tracker mortgage back then? Oneplan was a big selling product with Permanent TSB at the time.

Mr J.H., email

There are a few different issues here that can essentially be boiled down to two core questions. Should Permanent TSB have offered to top up your tracker mortgage back in 2007 and 2008? And what should you reasonably expect from the review the lender says it is conducting into the case?

Going back to front, let’s address this issue first. You say you have had a complaint lodged with the lender for three years now and have yet to receive any reply other than a recurring “we’re looking into it”. That’s simply not good enough.

Permanent TSB has, in the meantime, concluded its tracker mortgage lookback and reached a record settlement with the regulator, the Central Bank, over failings that the review discovered.

The conclusion of the exercise infers that the bank has addressed all those cases that have come to light. But you say that they are aware of your complaint but you have had no notice of an outcome. That’s not consistent.

I suggest you write again to the bank, quoting whatever case number that I presume you have been given – or at least quoting your previous communications, including dates – and request an immediate response in light of the conclusion of the investigation. It would do no harm to send a copy of that letter to the Central Bank.

Having said that, I’m not sure that you are entitled to grievance over the mortgage top-up.

I don’t see how there would be any obligation on them to offer a particular rate, including a tracker option

The tracker scandal concerns people who had mortgages on other rates with lenders which, when they were taken out, offered the option of switching to a tracker rate – generally on conclusion of a fixed rate.

Each new application – including applications for top-ups – are new loan applications. In each case the lenders would do a credit review and make a decision whether to sanction a loan or not, and on what terms. I don’t see how there would be any obligation on them to offer a particular rate, including a tracker option.

If you are arguing that the loan you took was not fully explained to you, or that other options should have been put and were not, you’ll want to have written evidence from the time the loans were taken out in 2007 and 2008.

Permo came a little late to the tracker party, offering these products only from 2004. The bank was still offering tracker rates when you made your application for a top-up loan as they were only withdrawn in July 2008, but that doesn’t mean they were obliged to offer that rate.

You already had an €80,000 mortgage and an unfinished house. The lender may have decided to grant the loan but only on the basis of the Oneplan chequebook loan option, while, as you say, the lender had marketed aggressively since its 2002 introduction. They were probably fully entitled to do that but you are quite entitled to enquire...and to get an answer.

Please send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2, or email dcoyle@irishtimes.com. This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

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