Access to file can give customers leverage in mortgage negotiations
Fine Gael Ireland South European Parliament Candidate, Deirdre Clune, has urged people who are dealing with their bank regarding mortgage arrears to request
a copy of all information the bank holds about their mortgage. Senator Clune has said that data requests often lead to the disclosure of information which can give them leverage in negotiations with their bank regarding their mortgage. All banking customers are entitled to and can access the bank’s file on them for a fee of €6.35.
“As we know there are tens of thousands of people in mortgage arrears. I strongly encourage those who are in negotiations with the banks to request access to their personal file to ensure that their bank’s paperwork is completely in order regarding their mortgage.
“Many banks bent the rules in order to provide mortgages during the property bubble. This was especially so in the case of buy-to-let properties whereby people were being given a second or third mortgage when they should not in actuality have qualified for those mortgages.
“Banks were also frequently deficient in their duty of care to ensure that their mortgage clients had adequate legal advice. This often occurred in situations whereby parents guaranteed their grown up children’s mortgages in order to enable them to buy a home. In many cases both parties used the same legal adviser which is contrary to banking codes of practice as it does not ensure independent legal advice for the client. However far too often banks turned a blind eye to this and in doing so were deficient in their duty of care to their customer.
“Disclosure of this type of information can give the customer leverage when it comes to negotiating mortgage repayments or indeed holding onto their property. Many people are negotiating in the dark and too often the banks hold all the cards when it comes to negotiations over people’s mortgages.
“Although it is not widely known, under section 4 of the Data Protection Acts, 1988 and 2003, customers of the bank are entitled to copies of any data that the bank holds on them. You have a right to obtain a copy, clearly explained, of any information relating to you kept on computer or in a structured manual filing system. The customer must simply write to the bank requesting a copy of the data under section 4 of the Data Protection acts and include a cheque or money order for €6.35.
“You cannot get a complete picture of your finances and what the bank is thinking in relation to your case without first knowing all the facts. Section 4 requests have in the past shown up flaws with the securities that banks hold or wrong doing on the part of the bank. During the years of light touch regulation under Fianna Fáil, not all banking documentation was as thorough as it ought to have been.
“When you make a data request, the bank then has 40 days to respond to your request and provide you with a copy of your data. This can be of enormous help to those who are in mortgage arrears. I would encourage anyone in difficulty to request and review their file. It may prove a valuable tool in negotiating with the bank in relation to any re-structuring of the mortgage.”