Complaint settled during investigation

Brendan Burgess

The Overview of Complaints

Legal fees applied to the complainant’s mortgage account
Rob and Victoria’s complaint concerned their mortgage loan account. They had been in
mortgage arrears between 2013 and 2014 and were designated by their provider as “not
cooperating” within the meaning of the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA).
By February 2015 the mortgage arrears had risen to more than €25,000. With the
help of family members, Rob and Victoria cleared the arrears by way of two substantial
payments in February and March 2015, together with a number of agreed instalments to
address the remaining residual balance, which were cleared by December 2015.
In June 2016 Rob and Victoria were notified of certain outstanding legal fees, but on
request, details of the figures were not provided by their provider. Rob complained that
he did not get access to the solicitor’s invoices until January 2017 and he explained that
the provider had never advised him of those fees which it had designated as “arrears” and
capitalised, thereby causing the fees to attract interest charges for the remainder of the
mortgage term.
The complainants pointed out that they were not given the opportunity to pay the
fees or the opportunity to dispute liability. They also referenced other issues of
maladministration which had contributed significantly to the difficulties they had
experienced. They referred to emails which went unanswered by the provider and to
excessive phone calls which they considered to be harassing. In addition, correspondence
sent by post was not received and subsequently, when collected from the branch, a
number of enclosures were missing.
As Rob and Victoria’s complaint was not resolved by way of mediation, the formal
investigation commenced in November 2018.
The provider responded formally to the complaint and, thereafter, the parties exchanged
a number of submissions and observations. In February 2019 the provider made an offer
on the record to settle the dispute which was accepted by Rob and Victoria. The FSPO
noted that this settlement included the refund of legal fees of €802.02 together with
interest of €91.98, and a general compensatory figure of €10,000.