Nationwide Building Society has pledged that none of its mortgage borrowers impacted by Covid-19 will lose their home in the next 12 months, in one of several support measures.
The mutual said it will suspend repossessions until the end of May 2021 for borrowers in arrears due to the pandemic, who work with the lender to recover their finances.
As other lenders have been doing, Nationwide is also offering flexibility for customers to meet mortgage payments where they can, and will be assessing customers’ circumstances to ensure the best outcome and timeframe for repayments. This could include moving temporarily to interest-only payments.
After the FCA’s recent announcement of extending mortgage payment freezes until October, Nationwide said it will be offering new three-month mortgage payment breaks from mid-June, meaning a total of up to six months for those who need it most, following an assessment to ensure the hardest-hit customers get extra support. The lender added that payment holidays may not be the best option for all customers, and that some will be offered alternatives.
In parallel to the free debt advice sector’s calls for support for renters, Nationwide is urging landlords to pass on payment breaks to tenants. The lender is contacting all its buy-to-let landlord customers to tell them that if their tenants require a rent payment break due to the impact of Covid-19, they can have a mortgage payment break.
Nationwide chief executive Joe Garner said: “There is a real need to reassure people, particularly those on mortgage payment breaks who are worried what will happen next. At a time when people are concerned about their jobs, bills and health, we want to do everything possible to ensure they don’t worry about having a roof over their heads.”
As well as new policies for customers, Nationwide is also asking the government to consider changes to the way housing support is provided, asking that Local Housing Allowance covers the 50th percentile of rents in any given area rather than the current 30th percentile, something Shelter and the Money Advice Trust have also called for.
The lender said it has also been working with government and other organisations to establish a more “consistent and customer-focused approach to debt collection and recoveries.”
Through a partnership with Shelter, Nationwide has also pledged to fund more advisers for the charity’s Helpline and HelplinePlus services, which provide specialist advice to those with housing, debt and welfare issues. Nationwide will also support the introduction of new Shelter community engagement officers.
This year the society’s chairman and non-executive directors will donate 20 percent of their net fees to Shelter, from June to December.
Policies on repossessions and forbearance will be among the themes at this year’s Collections & Vulnerability Summit.