Consumer watchdog Which? this morning issued an eleventh-hour call for the Bank of Ireland to “do the right thing”.
Tomorrow, on May 1, thousands of the bank’s customers who have a tracker mortgage will be paying a higher interest rate. They include clients who were sold a ‘lifetime’ tracker, and landlords with several buy-to-let mortgages with the bank.
Affected customers were told of the hikes in February, and Which? says it has been inundated with complaints.
Tomorrow, rates on buy-to-let mortgages rise to base rate plus 4.49%. Residential mortgage holders face a hike to base rate plus 3.99% which will be implemented in two phases, tomorrow and on October 1.
Which? said it believes that the bank is potentially treating approximately 13,500 customers unfairly by hiking rates using clauses buried in the small print of mortgages taken out before October 2004.
Which? said it is advising Bank of Ireland mortgage customers to complain if they were led to believe their rate would track the Bank of England base rate by the same amount for the term of their mortgage or if their mortgage had ‘life’ or ‘lifetime’ in its name.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “Burying such important changes in the small print is wholly unfair. Bank of Ireland is taking advantage of its customers by hiking rates at a time when the base rate is static.
“Customers should complain if they were led to believe they had bought a ‘lifetime’ mortgage, and Bank of Ireland must deal with these complaints quickly and fairly.
“The Financial Conduct Authority must make sure all banks communicate important clauses to their mortgage customers, and the Government must ensure that the Consumer Rights Bill offers greater protection from unfair terms and conditions.”
Which? has created a free online tool to make it easy for consumers to complain directly to the Bank of Ireland:
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