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Press Room

22 February 2010

NatWest and RBS Announce New Six Month Repossession Pledge to Customers Falling into Arrears

NatWest and RBS today announce a new pledge for 2010 to provide real help to residential mortgage customers facing financial difficulty. The Banks commit not to commence repossession proceedings for a full 6 months after a customer first falls into arrears, easing the pressure on those homeowners struggling to meet their mortgage payments.

This new pledge comes as recent market figures* suggest that the number of repossessions could rise by approximately 15% in 2010, making forbearance measures, such as those by NatWest and RBS, increasingly important. NatWest and RBS made a commitment in December 2008 to support customers during 2009 and the Banks’ repossession figures remain well below the industry average.

Teresa Perchard, Citizens Advice, commented: " Citizens Advice warmly welcomes this announcement by the RBS. Giving customers who fall into arrears this important breathing space, perhaps because they have lost all or part of their income, gives peace of mind in the short term and a sensible period of time for people to get advice and plan what they will do rather than panic. We would urge all mortgage lenders to follow the example set by the RBS here and either renew their existing commitments to supporting customers in arrears, or for those who have not yet adopted best practice, to make a commitment now to do so."

Brian Hartzer, CEO UK Retail, said: " We will succeed as a business by helping our customers through good times and bad and helping our customers when times are tight and anxiety is high. This pledge today gives people the comfort to know that if they have a mortgage with RBS or NatWest and are facing financial difficulties, they have more time to work with us to find a solution without putting their home at risk. The last thing we want to do is repossess a home; repossession is always a last resort and one we look to avoid wherever possible. If customers are worried about making ends meet, it is critical they talk to the bank and our staff will do their best to work through the problems they face. We are open for business and here to help".

Note to editors:

*CML data released on 11 February 2010.

Further comment from Teresa Perchard, CAB: “The 'breathing space' commitment and other initiatives have really helped to minimise the number of actual repossessions in the past year. It is a simple and practical way that mortgage lenders can help their customers. If interest rates rise in the coming year, commitments like this could be even more important to avoid repossessions.”

  • NatWest and RBS were the first High Street Banks to introduce a six month grace period as standard practice.
  • NatWest and RBS offers customers alternative payment options when they are struggling with mortgage repayments. In addition, NatWest and RBS participate in a number of the Government’s current mortgage initiatives including Home Owner Mortgage Support Scheme, Support for Mortgage Interest, HomeBuy Direct and LIFT.
  • NatWest and RBS have launched an Assisted Voluntary Sale Scheme which allows individuals time to sell their homes rather than face repossession.
  • Both NatWest and RBS also ensure that a customer has the opportunity to seek advice from independent organisations such as CCCS (Consumer Credit Counselling Service) or CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau). RBS is the largest corporate supporter of the free, independent money advice sector.