02/06/2020
Working with you – Accord update on coronavirus (COVID-19)

As Covid-19 continues to impact people, their families and communities across the world it is clearly an anxious time for everyone.

To ensure you can continue to support your clients, we wanted to update you on the measures we are taking to ensure we can offer the best possible service in these unique circumstances.

 

Update on our new lending policies

As Covid-19 continues to impact people, their families and communities across the world it is clearly an anxious time for everyone.

To ensure you can continue to support your clients, we wanted to update you on the measures we are taking to ensure we can offer the best possible service in these unique circumstances.

Update on our new residential lending policies

As of Wednesday 20th May, we have updated our residential lending policy and can now offer mortgages on the following:

  • If your client is purchasing a new property the maximum loan-to-value (LTV) is 90%
  • If your client is re-mortgaging their existing property the maximum LTV is 90% LTV or less
  • New Build purchases will be accepted up to a maximum of 85% LTV
  • Help to Buy applications will be accepted up to 75% LTV

Update on our new BTL lending policies

As of Friday 22nd May, we have updated our BTL lending policy as follows:

  • For BTL house purchases the maximum loan-to-value (LTV) is 75%
  • For BTL remortgages the maximum LTV is 75% LTV
  • We will no longer lend to First Time Landlords

Following the government’s most recent announcement on restarting physical property valuations, all new applications will be subject to a physical valuation where possible, although brokers should be aware that to ensure the safety of all those concerned, appointments will be reduced and specific guidelines adhered to, which could impact timeframes.

Please note that for the time being we’ll be unable to accept applications for:

  • Properties in Northern Ireland

 

FAQs


Contacting us FAQs

How can we get in touch with you?

  • In line with government guidelines, our field-based BDMs will not be visiting broker offices for meetings but are still contactable as normal on email and telephone. Scheduled meetings will still be carried out, where appropriate, by telephone or digitally. Our BDMs will also be supporting webchat availability
  • Our Telephone Business Development Managers (TBDMs) and Business Development Advisers (BDAs) are (as of 24th March 2020) now working from home. This means we are not currently able to offer a telephone response via the usual contact lines. However, to ensure we can continue to answer your queries, we have significantly increased the resource on our webchat service and ask that you use this facility (available via the website) to enable us to support you over the next few weeks.
  • Our underwriting and service teams are still available for processing cases, answering queries and handling procuration fees etc. To allow us to align staff working hours with our busy periods we are reducing the opening times on the underwriting broker support line (0345 166 9208) from 9-6 to 9-5, as well as closing on Saturdays.

Thank you for your continued understanding during these difficult times and please continue to check our website and social channels for the latest information.

All our service turnaround times are shown on our website, and case updates are available via our MSO case processing system, so please try to only call our underwriters if you have a query that can’t be answered online.

 

Mortgage payment holidays guidance

Latest update on mortgage payment holidays 02.06.2020

You may have seen the FCA has released guidance for lenders on further support around mortgage payment holidays for those who have been impacted financially by coronavirus. We are working through what this means for our customers and will update our website and FAQs as soon as possible.

If your client is coming to the end of their mortgage payment holiday we will write to them with their recalculated monthly payment and revised mortgage balance and outline the next steps available to them.

These letters are being issued a month before your revised monthly payment will be taken but allowing for any postal delays, we would expect that the letter will arrive no later than 15 days before their next payment is due.

Please let your clients know that they do not need to re-submit a mortgage repayment holiday request form to apply for a holiday extension. We will be updating the customer section of the website with the latest guidance on next steps as soon as this has been finalised.

To ensure our telephony teams can support those customers who need it most, please reassure your clients that they do not need to contact us unless their payment is due within the next two weeks.

Do you have a payment holiday policy in place for borrowers who cannot make their mortgage payments due to Coronavirus?

If you have clients who are worried about meeting their mortgage payments, we can offer a variety of solutions to them, including payment holidays. We need to make sure the solution we offer is right for your client, so if they are having difficulties and are concerned about their next payment, we would ask that they visit the Accord existing customer website in the first instance to find out the latest information and access our contact details.

Due to extremely high call volumes we are only able to speak to customers in the most vulnerable situations, and who cannot make their next mortgage payment. If clients can make their next mortgage payment, please allow those who need emergency help to receive it. Please ask them to call us when they are facing immediate difficulty. If customers do need to get in touch for urgent support, they should call 0800 138 2401 (Residential) and 0345 848 0225 (BTL).

Do you have a defined policy or is each instance dealt with on a case by case basis?

All cases will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

Would you prefer direct contact or can an intermediary act on a clients’ behalf?

To ensure we can provide the best support, we would advise that customers contact us directly.

How long can payment holidays last for?

The option of a payment holiday for up to three months is available for customers who are experiencing issues with their finances as either a direct or indirect result of coronavirus.

Your client must be up-to-date with your payments to be considered for a payment holiday. If their account is in arrears they may still be eligible but we will need to talk to them to assess their circumstances.

If your client has not yet applied for payment holiday they will be able to apply for one up to 31st October 2020.

If your client has already had a payment holiday but they are still experiencing difficulties paying their mortgage due to coronavirus, they can request to extend their payment holiday by three months. If they can afford to re-start your mortgage payments it’s in their best interests to do so.

What evidence will be required to qualify for a coronavirus payment holiday?

You don’t need to provide any documentation; you will just need to self-certify that your income has been either directly or indirectly impacted by COVID-19.

If you are a Buy-to-Let landlord, you will need to self-certify that your tenant’s income has been impacted by COVID-19. Landlords are expected to pass on this relief to their tenants to ensure that they are supported during this time."

How quickly can a decision typically be reached?

We are doing our best to support all customers during these unprecedented times. However, the spread of COVID-19 is likely to have an impact on staff levels and applications will be dealt with as quickly as possible. We would urge advisers to encourage their clients to only contact us if they have concerns about immediate payment, not to ask the question speculatively. This ensures we can help those who are in most need.

Once the payments are rolled onto the main balance, will the term be automatically extended or the monthly payments increased?

Customers will still owe the money where a payment holiday has been granted and interest will still accrue, so if you they are able to make part of your normal mortgage payment to reduce the money they owe or the interest charges then they should consider doing so.

How will the non-payment be recorded with credit reference agencies?

The unpaid interest from your payment holiday will still be recovered later, but individual credit ratings will not be affected. However, it’s important to know that credit files aren’t the only source of information which lenders can use to assess creditworthiness.

My client’s mortgage payment holiday is ending soon

You may have seen the FCA has released guidance for lenders on further support around mortgage payment holidays for those who have been impacted financially by coronavirus. We are working through what this means for our customers and will update our website and FAQs as soon as possible.

If your client has taken a mortgage payment holiday, they will be receiving a letter in the post from us which will outline their available next steps.

These letters are being issued a month before the payment holiday is due to end, but allowing for any postal delays, we would expect the letter to arrive 15 days before your next payment is due. To ensure our telephony teams can support those customers who need it most, please reassure your clients that they do not need to contact us unless their payment is due within the next two weeks.

The letter will confirm:

  • The mortgage payment holiday end date
  • Their new monthly payment and an explanation of how it has been calculated
  • The projected mortgage balance at the end of the payment holiday

It will also outline what next steps your client can take, including what to do if their employment status has changed, if they might have difficulty making their next payment or if they feel a payment holiday wasn’t the best option for them and they want to pay back the missed payments by a different means.

Throughout the letter, contact numbers are listed to ensure your client can speak to the right department to discuss their chosen next steps.

Please let your clients know that they do not need to re-submit a mortgage repayment holiday request form to apply for a holiday extension. We will be updating the customer section of the website with the latest guidance on next steps as soon as this has been finalised.

How can customers get in touch with you?

As the situation is changing very quickly, please visit the Accord existing customer website in the first instance for the latest updates and if customers need to get in touch for urgent support, they should call 0800 138 2401 (Residential) and 0345 848 0225 (BTL).

We would urge advisers to encourage their clients to only contact us if they have concerns about immediate payment to ensure we can help those who are in most need.


 

New applications and payment holidays

Will a client who is due to complete in the near future be able to take the 3 month holiday after completion?

Yes, provided their income is affected by Covid-19, they will be able to take an immediate payment holiday on completion.

Will you require any additional information to support a BTL application?

We are asking brokers to supply a bank statement evidencing rent received and a copy of the tenancy agreement for the property to be mortgaged on every case in order that we can deal with the application as quickly as possible.


 

Product transfers and payment holidays

Do you allow product transfers for clients in an agreed payment holiday?

Yes, providing your client is not in arrears and meets our usual criteria, we can arrange a product transfer.

If a client takes a payment holiday will this affect future product transfers?

No, providing your client is not in arrears and meets our usual product transfer criteria, they will be able to go ahead with the transfer.

Will I be able to login to my client’s record and complete a product transfer online if they’ve had a payment holiday?

We’re currently working on this. In the meantime please use this manual online form to submit a request.


In progress mortgage applications

What about product transfers and additional loans?

If you have a client whose current deal is coming to end and wants to transfer to a new product, they are able to proceed as normal. Our full range of products across all LTVs is still available.

In progress applications - What will happen about valuations during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak?

As of Wednesday 13 May, valuers are returning to work in line with the latest government advice. All new applications will be subject to a physical valuation where possible, although brokers should be aware that to ensure the safety of all those concerned, appointments will be reduced and specific guidelines adhered to, which could impact timeframes.

This also means we’re starting to work through our pipeline cases. Where possible, we are working with our valuation partners to get physical valuations booked in to replace desktop valuations, including those where an appointment has been made. You can check valuation updates through the case tracking portal on MSO.

The reinstatement of physical valuations also means that purchase applications on New Build, flats and non-standard construction will be accepted for residential cases and for BTL cases, flats and non-standard construction will be accepted

My client’s mortgage offer is due to expire as a result of coronavirus – can they get an offer extension?

Given the current social distancing measures, we understand many house moves or remortgages will be delayed.

We want to support clients at what’s a very anxious and uncertain time. So, we’ll allow clients where the offer is due to expire soon to extend their mortgage offer for up to three months. This applies to both remortgage and house purchase applications.

If your client’s circumstances have changed since the offer was issued or within this three month extension period, or the terms of the house purchase change significantly, we’ll need to review the offer.

Client changes include:

  • Increase in loan amount
  • Reduction in term (on Capital & Interest)
  • Amendment to customer name/address details causing a new bureau call
  • Verified income is lower than declared
  • Additional costs (for example debts/childcare/ground rent/additional commitments etc.) identified at verification
  • Changes to household composition
  • Change of property
  • Change in repayment type to Capital & Interest

As a responsible lender, we’ve a duty to ensure that continuing with the mortgage won’t cause house buyers to face financial hardship. In these circumstances, we’ll work with your client to help them manage their finances as a matter of urgency.

We’re working through the most urgent cases to ensure extensions are provided where needed. So, please only contact us if you’re within 30 days of your client’s offer expiring.

You’ll be able keep up to date with any changes on here, our social channels and via our emails.

If you’ve any further queries about your case, please contact 0345 166 9208 (Residential) or 0333 414 1100 (BTL)

What do the Land Registration changes mean to my client's mortgage application?

England and Wales

There is currently no impact on cases in England and Wales.​

Scotland

There is now no impact on cases in Scotland. This is because the Land Registry of Scotland has put in place alternative measures for our Legal Advisers to ensure our interest is protected.

Northern Ireland

We can complete on existing cases in Northern Ireland providing our Legal Adviser has submitted an Electronic Priority Search that is showing as pending on the register. We will call our Legal Adviser immediately prior to completion and only release funds where this is confirmed.