Mortgage servicer HML says it has seen a sharp decline in mortgages in arrears thanks to efforts to work with borrowers who are behind on their payments.
The Skipton-based firm said it saw a 22 per cent decline in mortgages that are more than 2.5 per cent in arrears in 2015, significantly beating the 11 per cent national decline.
HML’s CEO Andrew Jones said: “HML does everything we can on behalf of clients to work with borrowers, particularly those significantly behind on their payments, to find a solution that takes into consideration their circumstances.”
HML said it has also seen a significant decrease in the number of households that are in “significant “arrears.
Households in arrears by more than 10 per cent, the most serious arrears band, decreased by 25 per cent among HML-administered mortgages since the end of 2014. This is markedly better than the national average of a two per cent decline over the same period.
“We have built a wealth of information on mortgages and market-leading systems that can identify customers who are in danger of going into arrears and who need assistance,” said Mr Jones.
“We also pro-actively engage customers at the earliest opportunity so that we can fully understand their circumstances, including the causes or potential causes of payment problems and how long they may last.”
HML said it has found through experience that it’s easier to find solutions when it engages with customers early on.
“Our great emphasis is on ensuring they understand their situation, and how serious it might become if they refuse to address it,” said Mr Jones.
“We are willing to talk through their financial situation in real detail and help them prioritise their expenditure.
“We also make sure the solutions we find together suit their circumstances: clearly someone who has lost their job will need different support to someone who needs to pay to fix their boiler. Additionally, we put customers in touch with free, independent debt advice services.”
HML said a key part of the service is to be approachable.
“It is easy for customers to be in touch at a time that suits them through our dedicated credit management call centres, and we will make contact ourselves through phone calls, text messages and by post to ensure problems can be discussed quickly,” said Mr Jones.
“Customers can also make payments through a range of means, such as direct debit, debit card, standing orders, cheques and payments into the bank. We also have specific processes in place to ensure customers with particular vulnerabilities are treated particularly considerately.”
HML said there are many issues that can lead to problems with mortgage payments.
“These include loss of employment, reduced hours at work, unexpected expenditure and the weight of other debt commitments,” said Mr Jones.
“We make sure we understand the reasons behind customers’ arrears or payment difficulties, how long problems will persist and what they are able to do about them. But it’s also crucial that customers themselves understand their situation and what is required of them.”
Earlier this month HML’s parent Computershare was appointed preferred supplier in the tender process to undertake the mortgage servicing activities of UKAR, which took over the “bad” parts of Bradford & Bingley and Northern Rock.
“We expect UKAR and HML to work together in the future, but we will not be in a position to confirm any details until a contract is finalised,” said Mr Jones.
Assuming a contract is signed, around 1,700 UKAR staff based in Yorkshire and Sunderland will transfer to Computershare and continue to service customers.
HML has set out ambitious growth plans to double the size of the business and create a Northern powerhouse servicing other firms’ mortgages.
“We’re fully committed to the creation of a Northern Powerhouse, and believe Yorkshire and other Northern counties have the talent to make it a reality,” said Mr Jones.
“Computershare and HML have a great deal to contribute in helping this strong and vibrant region realise its potential, and we’ll continue our substantial investment in existing staff members and the specialist training of new recruits to help the North grow and prosper.”