Regulator strengthens mortgage rule

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Toughened mortgage lending rules to make sure borrowers can only take out deals they can afford and prevent any return to irresponsible lending have been outlined by the financial services regulator.

The shake-up, which comes into force in April 2014, is the result of a long-running review by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), aiming to put “common sense” at the heart of the market.

The FSA also announced a new rule which takes effect from today, stating that lenders must not take advantage of a borrower who cannot get a mortgage elsewhere by treating them less favourably than other similar customers, for example by offering them a worse interest rate or terms.

It said this would help protect people who were already stuck with their current lenders, as well as those who may become trapped when the new rules came in.

From 2014, lenders will need to consider a borrower’s income and outgoings and interest-only mortgages will only be offered to people with a firm repayment plan, rather than relying on hopes that house prices will rise.