In 2012, the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) performed a market-wide, exploratory investigation into the way in which mortgage providers deal with their client's payment arrears. This investigation shows that providers are working on a better approach to payment arrears concerning mortgages. They also indicate their intention to devote more attention to the interests of the client.
The AFM is satisfied with the fact that providers have made steps in dealing with payment arrears. The supervisor does observe that they can take further measures to focus their attention on the interests of their clients, to a greater degree. This is important because the number of households with payment problems has increased considerably. This means that providers have to have their business operations in order, on the one hand to prevent payment problems as much as possible, and on the other hand to ensure that an adequate approach is developed for cooperating with households with payment problems in finding an appropriate solution.
The exploratory investigation was performed at fourteen mortgage providers. The AFM asked these providers what preventative measures they implement and how they handle their clients' payment problems. The AFM did not investigate the individual files of clients with payment arrears. The opinion of the AFM is based on the answers to the questions asked.
The investigation shows that mortgage providers are very much aware that, in these difficult economic times, the number of clients with payment problems pertaining to mortgages is growing. Prevention becomes more important, particularly in cases involving growing problems.
The AFM communicated the good developments and points for attention to the mortgage providers. It has also made general recommendations, which credit providers can use to further improve the process pertaining to payment problems. The AFM expects the providers to take further steps in dealing with payment arrears, and will continue to monitor this in the period to come.
The AFM is asking that attention be paid to early identification of problem mortgages, and recommends that providers should contact the relevant clients as soon as possible. More information for clients, for example what they can do in the case of any problems, can have a preventative effect. Clients can also make an important contribution to reducing or solving payment problems. Gaining an insight into the financial position is important in this connection. They would do well to contact the credit provider at an early stage if there are (anticipated) problems that will have a major impact on the capacity for making payment.
Early insight into the backgrounds of the financial problems enables providers and clients to deal with the root of the problems. The sooner clients and providers take action, the better the possibility of reducing or resolving payment problems.
It is advisable for credit providers to have a broad range of potential solutions. As sale under execution is rarely in the interest of the client, a mortgage provider should make every effort within reason to prevent a sale under execution.
The AFM is committed to promoting fair and transparent financial markets.
As an independent market conduct authority, we contribute to a sustainable financial system and prosperity in the Netherlands.