Time the buck stopped with the customer

Sarah Davidson

July 23, 2014

Gemma Harle is managing director of TenetLime

When it comes to mortgage applications, where, exactly, does the customer’s responsibility begin?

All too often when there’s a problem, or a complaint, applicants simply fall back on ignorance as a defence. However, it’s time claiming such things as forgetfulness, or not having read documents properly were deemed as unacceptable excuses.

This is particularly true with the current prevalence for ‘gaming’ on buy-to-let applications, which is becoming a major area of concern for the intermediary sector.

As it stands at the moment, it is the broker who carries the can when things go awry, even if the blame lies with their client

One of the failings of the MMR, was that it did not educate the general public about the changes the sector was set to undergo.

As a result, people do not fully appreciate the lengths they must now go to, to ‘earn’ a mortgage. Many do not realise they could actually be committing a criminal act in attempting to obtain money through the deception of making false claims with regard to income or other affordability criteria.

I am not saying the broker community is whiter than white, but customers are getting much wiser when it comes to playing the system. And those who get caught deliberately attempting to flaunt the rules ought to be held to account.

As it stands today, there is no real incentive for lenders to do anything about it. The onus rests on the shoulders of brokers. This is profoundly unfair.

Customers know that if one application fails, they can simply try again with no fear of any consequences. All they risk is another refusal.

Brokers meanwhile could face being struck off lender panels and all manner of other punitive sanctions.

True, it may be a society thing to some degree, but there is still a need to start redressing the balance with a concerted campaign of consumer education on the mortgage front.

At some stage, the buck has got to start stopping with the customer…

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