The West Brom BTL mortgage rate hike and fairness: The start of a trend?

Many of you will have heard the news that West Bromwich Building Society is increasing the rate of its buy-to-let tracker mortgage to 3.49% from 1 December. For thousands of landlords this will represent an increase of 2 percentage points from 1.49%, a rate they justifiably thought they were locked in at until the end of the term. Rentify were of course quick to condemn this move and our advice for West Bromwich customers to seek new mortgage advice was quoted in the Telegraph’s report. After the Bank of Ireland pulled a similar move in February there is a real worry that these hikes will become a trend. If this does begin to happen, it cannot be without a fight from borrowers.

West Bromwich’s claim that the changes ‘are permitted under the terms and conditions of the accounts’ may give them enough of a legal foundation for their actions but it is not completely clear-cut. Rentify challenge the fundamental fairness of West Bromwich’s rate hike and we encourage you to do the same. This is not an idle complaint. As the FT points out, West Bromwich are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and it could be argued that such a hike contravenes the requirement for treating customers fairly (TCF). Companies are expected to make sure ‘consumers are provided with products that perform as firms have led them to expect, and the associated service is of an acceptable standard and as they have been led to expect’. Hmmm…

At the very least customers should register their complaints and if you are of a mind to take it further, a class action could even be an option. Landlords and landlord groups must send a message to West Bromwich, and to other lenders, that this is not an acceptable way to treat customers.

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