Conveyancer Breezeplus has revealed it is addressing problems that have led to delays of weeks or months on remortgage processing times.
The legal firm was criticised by a broker who claimed their client may require compensation after their fees-free remortgage through Nationwide was delayed by more than a month, leaving them paying the standard variable rate for longer than expected.
Nick Green, broker at Coventry-based Alternative Estates and Financial Services, said he had three remortgage cases that had been delayed as a result of issues with Nationwide using Breezeplus for free legals.
Mr Green said: “One had the offer issued in March, they chased and chased, and when I chased it I was told they were aware of the issues but it would be three days for a call back.
“All they need is the redemption statement. The current lender insists they haven’t had the request, but Breezeplus can’t confirm as you can’t get through.
“It has been nearly six weeks since the offer and clients are paying the higher standard variable rate, which they will probably want compensating on from someone, as the delays are avoidable.”
Mr Green added that he did not blame the lender, but criticised Breezeplus for “taking on the business when they can’t cope with it”.
Brendan O’Brien, chief executive of Breezeplus, said he could not comment on individual cases but sought to reassure brokers that the problems were being addressed.
He said: “We have been busy and this has had an impact on telephone and outbound communications. The number of customers affected remains relatively small but the phones remain an issue.
“We were perhaps not engaging with the brokers in the way we should. I am more than happy for brokers to contact me at my email so we can add them to the broker engagement programme.”
Mr O’Brien explained the engagement programme allows brokers with five or more cases to receive bulk updates quickly and efficiently, adding it would help “to put the broker back at the centre of everything we do”.
Brokers who wish to take part will need to be able to centralise all of their information-gathering through a single point of contact within the firm, which will allow Breezeplus to provide faster progress updates.
A spokesman for Nationwide declined to comment on the delays experienced with Breezeplus.
The issue of delays to legal fees-free remortgages is by no means confined to Nationwide's choice of Breezeplus, and many brokers are calling on lenders to offer cashback instead of free legals.
Dale Jannels, managing director at All Types of Mortgages in Surrey, said he had experienced issues with all lenders that offer free legals.
“The problem is we don’t really have control of the instruction process,” he explained. “If it was with a separate solicitor you could contact them, but with most of the lenders you have to wait for an offer to come through before work can start.