Covid-19 update - We’re closely monitoring developments and making changes as appropriate to help you, our customers and our colleagues. More information

Covid-19 update

The safety and well-being of our customers, brokers and colleagues during the current Covid-19 outbreak is our top priority.

Everything you need to know about how we're adapting our business in response to Covid-19 is on this page.

Please see the criteria sections below for details about some temporary changes, to ensure we can continue to lend responsibly.

Correct as at 18 September

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Completions

We’re proactively contacting solicitors prior to funds release so that we can understand the position of individual cases. If funds are released early or incorrectly then they’ll be dealt with in line with our normal process when funds are returned.

Conveyancing

We’re aware that some law firms are struggling to obtain redemption statements from existing lenders, causing delays to a customer’s case. We’re proactively providing redemption figures over the telephone to help keep things on track.

The Land Registries in Northern Ireland, Scotland, UK Finance and the relevant Law Societies are in discussions regarding the closure of registers, which may impact a law firm’s ability to complete mortgage transactions. We’re managing impacted customers on a case by case basis. In Northern Ireland we can proceed with registered land cases when an application has been lodged. If you have any questions please contact your BDM.

Criteria – temporary changes for affordability assessment

We won’t include annual / semi-annual bonuses in LTI and affordability, but we’re still accepting high frequency bonuses along with regular commission and overtime on current payslips.  We may request additional documentation to support this, or limit the amount used in our affordability assessment if there’s uncertainty around these payments continuing in the future.

Criteria – temporary changes for remortgages

We’ve introduced a temporary LTV limit of 75% (excluding fees) to remortgages which involve the release of capital. 

Criteria – temporary changes for self employed applicants

We’ll need to confirm that your self employed customers have resumed trading. We'll request their latest business bank statement to evidence recent trading activity. We may request additional documentation to support our underwriting assessment, including cases where applicants haven’t restarted trading yet.

Face to face visits

We will accept a case as face to face if the customer has been seen by you over video link.

Furloughed applicants

We’re still accepting applications from customers who are on furlough provided they have a confirmed return to work date. We’ll ask you to provide evidence of this during the application process.

We’ll assess the income of furloughed applicants with a return to work date based on 100% of their basic salary when they return, taking into account any reduction in salary that may have been agreed.

We won’t take any historic variable income, such as bonus/overtime/commission into account.

In the case of joint applications where one applicant is furloughed, the case may still proceed if the application passes our affordability assessment based on the other, non-furloughed, applicant’s income alone.  

Logging a change of circumstance

If your customer's financial situation has materially changed, please let us know. You can do this via case messaging on the online portal or call us on 0345 266 8928*.

Help to Buy incentives

Changes in Stamp Duty Land Tax rules for England and Northern Ireland were announced on 8th July. As a result we’ve made a temporary change to our incentive criteria on Help to Buy: Equity Loan purchases only. There is no change to our New Build policy.

If you submitted a Help to Buy application on or before 9th July, we’ll now accept a cash incentive in lieu of any previously agreed stamp duty incentive offers. This only applies if:

  • The value of the cash incentive is no greater than 5% of the full purchase price

 and

  • The value of the cash incentive is no greater than the value of the original stamp duty incentive declared on the original disclosure of incentives form.

You don’t need to let us know if the incentive has been reduced or removed. The conveyancer won’t need to amend the disclosure of incentives form if it's already been sent to us, and as long as the above criteria is met.

This is a temporary update and our incentive criteria remains the same. Visit our dedicated New Build page for more information.

Offer extensions

We’ll offer an Offer extension if it’s in your customer’s best interests to do so. Either you or your customer can complete the Offer extension request form here. Once we've processed the case, you, your customer and their solicitor will receive a confirmation letter.

ID requirements

There’s no change to our ID requirements and we’ll continue to complete checks to verify your customer’s ID. In the vast majority of cases proof of ID isn’t required. However if proof of ID is required and you can’t verify the customer ID because of remote working, then we’ve amended our process so that your customer can send the information directly to us. They’ll need to quote the application reference number.

Please speak to your BDM or Telephone BDM if you need further guidance on this.

Interest only options

We’ll continue to offer this as an option for customers facing financial difficulty. We’ll discuss all options with affected customers.

Logging a change of circumstance

If your customer's financial situation has materially changed, please let us know. You can do this via case messaging on the online portal or call us on 0345 266 8928*.

Missed or late payments

Any 3 month payment breaks we’ve agreed as a result of Covid-19 will not affect customers’ credit files. All other missed payments will be reported as usual.

Offer extensions

We’ll offer an Offer extension if it’s in your customer’s best interests to do so. Either you or your customer can complete the Offer extension request form here. Once we've processed the case, you, your customer and their solicitor will receive a confirmation letter.

Options for customers ending their payment break

At the end of the payment break we’ll automatically add the deferred payments to your customer’s mortgage so they’re repaid by the end of the mortgage term.

There are other options available including:

  • Repaying in full at the end of the payment break
  • Repaying the deferred amount over a shorter period (rather than the remainder of the term)
  • Extending the mortgage term (repayment mortgages only).

Repaying the deferred payments over an agreed period will increase your customer’s standard monthly payment.

The option your customer chooses will depend on their individual circumstances. We’ll write to customers nearing the end of their payment break with more details. They don’t need to contact us before they receive this letter.

Our current service

These are updated daily on our website. We’re currently operating as normal with many of our teams are now working remotely.

Your BDM remains fully contactable via phone and email - please get in touch with them first with any queries you may have. You can find their contact details here.

Payment breaks

If your customer is experiencing short term financial difficulty due to Covid-19, they can apply for a payment break to reduce or stop their monthly mortgage payments for up to three months. If they’re still experiencing difficulties at the end of their payment break, until 31 October 2020 they can request a further payment break of up to three months.

They’ll still owe the deferred amount, and the interest on their mortgage will continue to accrue during their payment break. Other options may be more suitable for them.

If your customer expects their situation to affect them longer term, or they have arrears on their mortgage account, please ask them to contact us, so we can discuss which options may be best for them.

Payment break extension

We’ll write to your customer near the end of their payment break to explain the options available to repay their deferred payments. If they are able to resume mortgage payments, either partially or in full, it is in their best interests to do so.

However, if after taking their initial 3 month payment break, your customer is still experiencing, or is likely to experience short term financial issues as a result of Covid-19, they can request a further payment break for up to 3 months. They can make this request until 31 October 2020.

Once they have received their payment break end letter, they can apply for a payment break extension by completing the Payment Break Extension Application form here. By submitting the request, they’re confirming that all parties to the mortgage consent to the extension.

Impact of extending a payment break

When your customer takes a payment break, the amount owed and any interest charged will be added to their mortgage account. This will increase their monthly payments once the payment break ends, so they’ll need to make sure they can afford the increased payment. If they can afford to make their mortgage payment either partially or in full, they should do so.

There’ll be no impact to your customer’s credit file. However, there are other ways lenders can see if they’ve taken a payment break, such as the balance of their mortgage over this period, or information from their bank account. Lenders may take this into account when assessing future applications.

Procuration fee payments

There’s no change to the procurement fee or payment process.

Products

We continue to lend up to a maximum of 85% LTV across all new mortgages and further advances. See our latest news update here.

Product transfers

You can now complete product transfers for customers on a payment break. Simply call our intermediary enquiry line on 0345 266 8928* and a specialist will take you through the process.

We’ll email you the illustration, and then we’ll email the Offer to you and your customer. They can sign electronically, so there’s no need to post anything back to us.

Remote working

In line with government advice, where possible, teams are working remotely from home. This includes underwriters and some of our support teams. Our Telephone BDMs and Intermediary Enquiry Line are still currently working as normal.

Title deeds

Title deeds are currently being worked on following our normal process, but we may be a bit slower than usual. Key information is available on the Land Registry for registered cases in England and Wales.

Valuations

Our panel of valuers will now carry out physical valuations across the UK if it’s safe for them and the occupier. If it’s not deemed safe they will carry out a desktop valuation rather than delay the case. If a valuer arrives at a property and the inspection can’t take place, a desktop valuation will be completed.

Desktop valuations can be carried out up to a maximum of 85% LTV. Our usual process remains unchanged and we’ll only issue a valuation report where a physical inspection has taken place. Please speak to your BDM or Telephone BDM for advice.

In order to maintain service levels and to support your business, we’ll continue to pay standard mortgage valuation and revaluation fee-scales. We’ll also, where possible, use all of our panel firms in order to maintain coverage across the UK.

Where should advisers direct customers?

We’re currently experiencing high call volumes, so we recommend that customers visit the customer hub on our website for information. Please ask them to visit their mortgage hub. 

Please be assured that we will help everyone impacted but would like to first speak to customers whose payments are due. Therefore if your customer’s payment is due within the next 7 days, and they need immediate financial support, please ask them to contact us (see payment breaks section). If their payment is not due in the next 7 days, please ask them to call closer to their payment date when we will be able to provide help.

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Changes to our criteria

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We’ve made some temporary changes to our criteria, so we can continue to lend responsibly. Please see our Covid-19 page for more details.