Agency warns landlord clients over virus mortgage holidays

One of London’s largest lettings agencies is warning its landlord clients to only use mortgage payment holidays offered by lenders as a last resort.

Chestertons says there’s a risk that taking advantage of the holiday offer could potentially affect their ability to borrow in the future.

As part of its fight against the Coronavirus, the government has asked all mortgage lenders offer their customers payment holidays and has pledged that this will not affect an individual’s credit score.

However, Chestertons and its recommended mortgage broker – Springtide Capital – says that the missing payments will still show on an individual’s credit report and there is no way of knowing how banks will view or interpret that information in the medium to long term.

A statement from the agency says: “Every lender uses their own algorithms and underwriters to work out whether or not they want to take the risk of lending to someone. The algorithm and underwriters will look at an applicant’s whole credit report and use certain information to calculate their own credit score, which could be very different to the public credit score available through Experian etc.”

Chestertons gives the examples of having multiple recent addresses or erratic payment history for a phone bill, which may not have a dramatic effect on a credit score but could still affect the lender’s view of the borrower.

A spokesperson for the agency adds: “Payment holidays are crucial for many people whose incomes have been affected by this pandemic and their introduction came as a big relief, but we are aware of many people who are not in any particular financial difficulties making enquiries about them.

“They often see it as an opportunity to improve their cash liquidity or to get ‘free money’ and have applied to their lenders, unaware of the potential consequences, when in fact switching to interest-only might have been a more appropriate move.“

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