Fair Rents (Scotland) Bill or Artificial state manipulation of free market rent?10:34 AM, 6th November 2020
About 4 weeks ago 36
The Mortgage Express exit strategy has been a hot potato since at least 2011 when they first met a group of 70 landlords at an event organised under the Property Tribes banner.
They have been slated by landlords for imposing terms and conditions which were buried in small print and which are no longer adopted by the mainstream buy to let lenders.
The bottom line for MX though is that their loan book is now the property of the UK tax payers and the organisation is pretty much run by Civil Servants, accountants, debt collectors/councillors and insolvency practitioners.
The Government have imposed tough targets and deadlines on the new MX team to reduce the loan book and therefore, it was inevitable that strong arm tactics, which many would describe as bullying, would be used.
Naturally they have gone for the easy targets and started by selling the concept of making over-payments to people who were too naive to work out that repaying a loan which typically costs 2.25% rarely makes sense. It’s possible to get a better return on that with a cash ISA or a deposit account in a bank or building society! MX appear to have had scant regard to advising their clients to pay off more expensive credit first and they were never going to suggest investing any surplus into anything but reducing a debt with them were they?
The strong arm tactics have extended to imposing their “Right to Consolidate” which their contracts say allows them to use 100% of any sale proceeds to repay debts owed to them. It has even been implied on many occasions that if a borrower redeems one mortgage with Mortgage Express they can call in the rest! I’ve not seen these terms challenged in Court yet but I have come across borrowers who had stood up to Mortgage Express and there are quite a few examples on internet forums of MX having backed off. Bullies don’t like people who fight back.
General sentiment of landlords is that Mortgage Express borrowers should avoid reviews like the plague. The conspiracy theorists, of which I am one, are that MX have a very simple agenda and it’s not based on helping borrowers despite how they pitch it. It would appear the entire purpose of the meeting is for MX to persuade you to pay off or reduce your debt and/or to look for you to trip yourself up by admitting to breaching mortgage conditions which you were not necessarily aware of. Examples include:-
Would you know whether your tenants were claiming benefits though? What if they started claiming benefits after the tenancy started? What if the property became an HMO due to your local authority imposing selective or additional licencing?
Is it fair that MX could find one little problem, call in that loan and then call all the others in based on their right to consolidate conditions?
It has been mooted on several forums that MX have a target to collect a percentage of their loan book. I’m not aware whether the percentage target has ever been published but I’ve heard figures as low as 25% banded about. I suspect it’s much higher than that, otherwise, why would they carry the heavy administrative costs of their current activities as opposed to simply selling their loan book for 25% of it’s value? Perhaps they could and it’s a simple case of government ineptitude and politics preventing this from occurring? More likely, in my opinion, is that the government want to be seen to try to recover as much as possible of the tax payers bail out money.
If we knew what the desired recovery percentage was we could make suggestions. Let’s suppose the figure is 60%. Most buy to let landlords would happily refinance if their loans were discounted by far less than that. I’d certainly consider moving for a 25% to 30% write off of debt. Not every borrower would want or be in a position to go for such a deal but if only half did so, the remaining book, which I suspect would include a lot of toxic dent and low value assets due to negative equity, could still be shifted. They may only get 40 pence in the pound for these assets as a block sale but those extra 10% to 15% figures they would get from borrowers taking up their offers directly could well make up the balance.
I suspect it’s only a matter of time before Mortgage Express start offering golden goodbye deals to borrowers, it’s just a case of satisfying the tax payer that they’ve tried everything else first. Mortgage Express were given 7 years to exit and it is because we are into the final states of that period we are seeing them apply increasing pressure. Those of us who can survive the next few years will, I suspect, come out of this with a great deal but in the meantime we should expect the unexpected as well as underhand tactics.
What would you do if you were Mortgage Express?
What do you think Mortgage Express borrowers should and should not do to protect their interests?
Before you agree to do anything with Mortgage Express talk to your fellow landlords. Go along to Landlords Association meetings or post comments/questions below or on Property Tribes. If Mortgage Express do bully you, fight back. If you don’t want to meet them don’t meet them. If they get aggressive with you just bear in mind that there are thousands of other Mortgage Express borrowers who are likely to have had similar experiences. Focus on the ideas that are legal and make the most sense. There are reported to be in the region of 50,000 Mortgage Express buy to let borrowers.
Via this link we have an excellent story as it unfolds of a landlord who was being forced to sell his home by Mortgage Express. It’s a very long discussion thread which was contributed to by several landlords and property professionals. To cut a long story short the landlord got his MP on side and Mortgage Express backed off.
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