27/03/2020
Working with you – Accord update on coronavirus (COVID-19)

As the Covid-19 coronavirus 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

Following the government’s announcement on restricting physical property valuations to enable social distancing and help prevent the spread of coronavirus, our valuers are currently unable to visit properties and carry out physical inspections.

We have updated our valuation policy to reflect this and made the following changes:

We’ll only be able to offer new mortgages on the following:

  • If you’re purchasing a new property the maximum loan-to-value (LTV) can only be 75% or less
  • If you’re re-mortgaging your property the maximum LTV can only be 85% or less

Due to the inability to carry out physical valuations, for the time being we’ll be unable to accept applications for:

  • New build
  • Flats
  • Properties in Northern Ireland
  • Non-standard methods of construction
  • Properties valued at more than £1 million

 

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 166 208) from 9-6 to 9-5

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

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 residential customers and buy-to-let landlords who have tenants who are experiencing issues with their finances, as either a direct or indirect result of coronavirus. In addition there will be a three month moratorium on residential and buy-to-let possession action due to start from 19 March 2020 helping provide customers with reassurance that they will not have their homes repossessed at this difficult time.

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?

Lenders will make every effort to ensure that the payment holiday does not negatively impact on a clients’ credit file.

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.


 

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.

However, whilst social distancing measures remain in place, revaluations above 85% will not be possible. Therefore, if a customer requests a revaluation, we will not be able to comply and they will be required to take a PT product from the range applicable to the LTV we hold for the property.

For customers requesting a revaluation under 75% LTV, this will be an automated valuation model (AVM) and between 75-85% a desktop valuation will be undertaken. We are still allowing additional loan applications and these will require a valuation, following the same principles up to our maximum LTV of 85%.

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

Due to the restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19, surveyors can’t visit properties to carry out valuations. This affects all mortgage lenders, not just Accord. Whilst social distancing measures remain in place, it won’t be possible for valuers to physically inspect properties. Therefore to ensure we can support as many customers as possible, we are using alternative valuation methods such as desktop valuations and an automated valuation model (AVM).

This means we will continue to lend on the following:

  • Residential purchases, where the maximum loan-to-value (LTV) is 75% or below
  • Residential re-mortgages, where the maximum LTV is 85% or below
  • Buy-to-let re-mortgages, where the maximum LTV is 65% or below

    Unfortunately, for the time being, we will be unable to lend on the following properties:
  • New build
  • Flats
  • Properties in Northern Ireland
  • Non-standard methods of construction
  • Properties valued at more than £1m
  • If you have an existing application with us we will look to apply the above rules to our pipeline cases to progress as many of these as possible. Pipeline cases where we cannot use desktop valuations or AVMs will remain in the pipeline until a physical valuation can be carried out.

    We will be in contact with customers shortly to let them know whether we can proceed with their application. If you have any queries in the meantime, please contact your BDM or use our webchat function.

My client has exchanged contracts, but has been told their move will be delayed as a result of coronavirus – can they get an offer extension?

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

We want to support clients at what’s a very anxious and uncertain time. So, we’ll allow clients who’ve exchanged contracts to extend their mortgage offer for up to three months.

If your client’s circumstances change during this three month period, or the terms of the house purchase change significantly, we’ll need to review the offer.

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

The Land Registry of Scotland is closed but we will process their application as far as we can. If the solicitor has lodged an 'Advance Notice' with the Land Registry prior to its closing, the mortgage can complete as normal. If an 'Advance Notice' wasn't lodged before the Land Registry closed, then completion will be delayed until such time that the Land Registry re-opens or puts in place alternative measures.

Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Land Registry is closed. We are working with the Law Society of Northern Ireland to understand what alternative options are available but unfortunately, at the moment, we are unable to complete on any cases. We will however continue to process their application as far as we can.