Lenders grant 1.9m mortgage payment holidays

Lenders grant 1.9m mortgage payment holidays

The number of mortgage payment holidays granted by lenders has reached 1.9m since the scheme launched in March, according to UK Finance.

One in six mortgages are now subject to a payment holiday, with the average borrower deferring a repayment of £755 a month. The majority, 1.2m, of payment holidays were approved during the first three weeks of the scheme.

The three-month mortgage holidays for borrowers facing financial challenges amid the coronavirus-driven economic downturn were first announced in March.

On May 22 the government confirmed that homeowners still struggling to pay their mortgage would be able to extend their payment holiday for a further three months.

As borrowers reach the end of their payment holiday, UK Finance said lenders are focussed on helping customers consider their next steps by contacting them with a range of options.

Eric Leenders, managing director of personal finance at UK Finance, said: "Lenders understand that many households will continue to see their finances squeezed as the pandemic continues, and we are working hard to ensure everyone gets the support suited to their needs.

"The industry has a clear plan to help homeowners get through these tough times, and whilst it is best for customers to restart their payments if they can, where this is not possible lenders are keen to help, whatever a customer's financial situation."

In May borrowers were given the option to continue deferring payments in part or full, move to interest-only payments for a period, or extend the term of their mortgage.

But in its corresponding guidance the Financial Conduct Authority stated it was in the borrower’s best interest to resume repayments if they are able to do so.

Customers who have not yet taken a mortgage payment holiday can apply for one until October 31.

Anthony Rose, director at LDNfinance, said: “It’s great to see that so many borrowers have taken advantage of payment holidays to improve their short term situation. However, there seems to be a perception amongst lenders that borrowers should only extend this should they really need to.

“The long term implications of borrowers taking payment holidays is uncertain at this stage but if borrowers can now resume paying their mortgage as normal, it will be in their best interest to do so.”

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, added: "While the headlines are all about one in six borrowers taking a mortgage payment holiday, it is encouraging that the vast majority are not subject to a payment deferral”.

However, Mr Harris added he had encountered borrowers taking payment holidays as “the option was available and they were worried about running out of money, whereas support from the furlough scheme meant this didn’t come to pass”.

Similarly Liz Syms, chief executive of Connect for Intermediaries, said on a recent Mortgage Market Alliance podcast that landlords may have taken payment holidays to preserve their cash flow, in the event that their tenant would be unable to pay rent.