Letter to Treasury Minister and her reply re Repossession and the Endowment scandal

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Repossession : One Thread

See my letter to the Treasury Minister Ruth Kelly (via my MP Norman Baker) and her subsequent reply below on the Repossession/Endowment issues :

Dear Mr Baker,

Thank you for your letter of 23`d September, 2002. This letter is in response to Ruth Kelly's letter of 27th August, 2002. I shall commence by dealing with repossessed mortgage shortfall victims (those victims whose `shortfall' debts result from properties being repossessed and sold, often at an undervalue, in particular properties with negative equity), and end with endowment mortgage shortfall victims.

My first comment regarding the Treasury Minister's reply is that she did not even mention the plight of repossessed mortgage shortfall victims. Why not? From 1990 - 1996 over 1 million individuals were subject to mortgage repossession (CML's figs), and since then many thousands more. Many people are still suffering and properties continue to be repossessed and undersold. In the early nineties the Labour party criticised the Tories for not doing enough for repossessed mortgage shortfall victims and for not taking the problem seriously. The Tory party at the time just told victims to take their case to the Financial Ombudsman. What is the Labour Government doing now? The same. Is this not being hypocritical?

What has the Labour Government done for repossessed mortgage shortfall victims since the early 90s, and what do they propose to do for them in the future? The Government could, if it's genuine in its wish to help mortgage shortfall victims push for the following:

That an amnesty be declared for debts arising from the 90s recession.

That the 1980 Limitation Act in respect to mortgage shortfall debt be reduced to 3 years (as recommended by the Law Society - The Housing Green Paper, July 2000), be it simple contract or specialty debt. Even if this may result in some repossessions being expedited, or more complex legislation. Furthermore, that the aforementioned limit be made retrospective.

That a full (impartial) investigation be carried out to disclose which Lenders have undersold properties, and that they be made to account for it. Underselling is endemic in the industry, and the problem is still not being addressed properly.

That the Voluntary 6 year code, in repossession cases (time limit to begin recovery action) be made law and reduced to 2 years, not 6 as proposed by the FSA.

A change in court rules to prevent Lenders/Mortgagees from pursuing Borrowers/Mortgagors indefinitely by means of a money judgment order. After a House of Lords case 'Lowsley and another v Forbes - 29.7.98' it was realised that they were able to do so.

The first four proposals above are taken from the Mortgage Shortfall E-Petition on `www.petition-them.com'.

All I have seen so far from the Government is a press release from the Lord Chancellor's Department dated 16th July, 2002 announcing the Government's acceptance in principal of the proposals in the law Commission's report, "Limitation of Actions" which recommended new time limits for bringing new claims in the civil courts i.e. 3/10 year limitation periods as opposed to the current 6/12 year limits. All mortgage shortfall victims, and everyone in the Home Repossession Action Group, of which I am a part, feels this is far short of being satisfactory. Even NACAB called for a six year limitation period in place of 12 years in their `Long Shadow Report'!!

I shall now continue on the subject of the endowment scandal. In respect to the re-projection letters, as Mr Page of 'www.uk-endowment-mortgages.com' says these are fine as they go, but many of the people worst affected will not understand them fully, or the context in which they are written. In the Daily Mail of 27th September it states that the FSA has put the onus on individuals, many elderly and vulnerable, who do not understand the workings of the financial services industry or how to complain. It has also been stated that those not satisfied with the Financial Ombudsman's decisions can take their case to court. This is fine if you can afford to do so or if you are in a position to obtain legal aid. If not, what then? NACAB can only advise, not represent one in court, so what chance has a shortfall victim got when he/she comes face to face with a fully qualified barrister in court? Is this just? The same goes for repossessed mortgage shortfall victims too.

The Consumer Association carried out a survey from the 19th July - 15th August, 2002 and found that 61 % of endowment mortgage holders were told their endowment "would definitely" or "was guaranteed" to pay off their mortgage, as they say a strong indicator of bad advice and possible mis-selling. Furthermore, according to the BMRB's Target Group Index Summer 2002 figs, there are 8.264 million adults with endowment mortgages. 61 % of 8.264 being 5.041 million people. Low interest rate economic conditions and low inflation, whilst being very welcome, should allow policyholders to benefit from these conditions and enable them to save towards, for example, their pensions, not be forced to top up their endowment policies or switch to a different method of mortgage payment.

The Consumer Association has recently exposed the fact that there is a deadline of 3 years from the receipt of the first re-projection letter in which endowment policyholders can make a complaint. Who established this deadline? I find it amazing that the FSA has kept this deadline hidden from consumers, why? Endowment policyholders who received their first reprojection letter in early 2000, may by early 2003, have run out of time to have their complaint considered by the Financial Ombudsman Service. This means that potentially millions of policyholders could be left without access to a truly independent complaints process. I concur with the CA that the deadline must be extended to avoid any possibility of consumers losing out. Although given the circumstances I feel it should be extended by a further 2 years.

I believe a full investigation should be carried out into the mortgage endowment mis-selling scandal in line with the Consumer Association's view. Millions of people were sold a stock market related vehicle that was supposed to pay for their biggest lifetime asset by far, and which is now causing so much misery for so many.

Yours sincerely, MD Amos (Mr) This letter and any subsequent reply may be issued to the media and other interested parties.

-----------------------------

HM Treasury, I Horse Guards Road, London, SW I A 2HQ Norman Baker Esq MP House of Commons London SW1A OAA Dear Norman,

Thank you for your letter of 13 November enclosing further correspondence from your constituent, Mr M Amos about mortgages.

Taking repossessions first, your constituent will know that the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) representing 98% of the mortgage market announced some time ago that lenders would limit the initiation of action for recovery of mortgage shortfall debt to a period of six years - in line with the NACAB recommendation in its report, The Long Shadow. Moreover, this limit will be incorporated in legally binding Financial Services Authority (FSA) rules when it comes to take responsibility for the regulation of mortgage sales in October 2004.

As to your constituent's comments on the Law Commission's report and proposed legislation on Limitations of Actions, I am copying your letter to Derry Irvine so that he might respond to your representations on mortgage possession time limits.

Your constituent is also concerned that the only recourse for those not satisfied with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is to the courts. The role of the FOS is to resolve disputes on the facts and circumstances of individual cases. The service is free and the Ombudsman's decisions are binding on firms but not on members of the public. However, the FOS has to be consistent in its decision-making and not every case will be resolved in favour of the complainant nor at the level of compensation the complainant might consider appropriate. In recognition of this, individuals don't have to accept any decisions the Ombudsman makes and are always free to go to court instead. Both the FOS and the FSA provide extensive literature and advice on how to make a complaint.

With regard to the time limits on making complaints to the FOS, these are set out in regulations by the FSA and provide that the FOS cannot consider complaints that were brought to it more than six years after the event complained about, or (if longer) more than three years from the date on which the individual became aware that there was a cause for complaint. The FSA keeps this under review, but has announced recently with regard to mortgage endowments that delivery of a red re-projection letter (not amber or green) is needed as the initial trigger for time to start running and that no-one will be considered to be out of time until 6 months after a second red letter is sent.

I hope that Mr Amos will find this helpful. RUTH KELLY MP

---------------------------------

Ruth Kelly has conveniently avoided answering a number of questions which I shall of course be taking up. I think it would be a particularly good time now for people to push the Minister via their MPs. Any comments?

-- M Amos (idgroms@hotmail.com), December 14, 2002

Answers

Mr? Amos,

I notice that Ruth Kelly is under the impression that lenders have six years to chase shortfall, and this is legally binding? Has she not read their loophole? I am sure a number of people using this site would be able to refute her impression of this matter. I for one, still had the Halifax on my back *SEVEN* years after my repo, simply because I had been in correspondence with them before they signed the mortgage code in relation to chasing shortfall victims.

As Mr Amos says, now may be the time to hassle your MP a bit more on this matter. Mr Amos has kindly given you a tool to argue with, and the more people that voice their opinion to the relevant parties on this matter, then the Government and these financial institutions will find it hard to ignore the underhand dealings that are going on.

I for one will be writing to my MP again, quoting Mr Amos's letter. I certainly agree that an investigation should be carried out to look into the lenders that have been (and in some cases, no doubt still are) underselling.

Well done Mr Amos, and thank you.

Tracey

-- One Angry Mother (madcow678@hotmail.com), December 16, 2002.


Tracey,

Thank you very much for your comments. It does appear that Ruth Kelly is ignorant of the facts, I shall indeed be pointing out that the limitation period is 12 years under 'Bristol & West v Bartlett' (in respect of capital) usually starting from the 2nd or 3rd missed monthly instalment payment on the mortgage. I shall also be pointing out the fact that the CML voluntary 6 year limit starts from the sale of the repossessed property, often many years later after possession, and has done little for current victims. Furthermore, I have also heard a rumour that where lenders have not contacted the borrower within the prescribed 6 years they have been selling on the shortfall debt to debt collecting agencies. Has anyone experienced this?

Mark.

-- M Amos (idgroms@hotmail.com), December 16, 2002.


Mark, as far as I understand it my debt was sold on twice, the last time in 2001. We are now nearly at 12 years from repo and they are *still* after me, now through their solicitors.

-- Too scared to say (iwasduped@yahoo.com), December 16, 2002.

Dear Mark,

The Treasury Minister is a Mr John Healey, his constituency fax number is 01709-874207, his phone numbers are 01709-872618 and 875943, i have faxed him copies of transcriptions of tapes i made of corrupt customs officers admitting they are fully aware of the use of dual invoices by major companies for the use of avoiding paying tax (black economy) a Mr Bridges of Deloitte and Touche who i have spoken to was commissioned to investigate this fraud, he found that 100 billion pounds per annum was being lost to the black economy.

The letter from Mr McGuiness who is/was the General Secretary for the Bradford and Bingley wrote to me saying" we were unaware that you had been fined for five years while you were making regular payments" isn't this fraud due to the following written by Mr Rodrigues the Chief Executive of Bradford and Bingley.

"We fine borrowers who are in arrears to cover the costs of our staff for monitoring and admin costs of borrowers in arrears", yet for five years according to Mr McGuiness someone who was monitoring our arrears had allegedly failed to notice we were being fined for being in arrears?? and not making payments.

Staffordshire Commercial Fraud Squad and their CID claim it isn't a crime to commit perjury in court and present false documents, and it isn't fraudulent to fine borrowers even if they have no arrears.The CPS claim there isn't strong enough evidence, Yet Lord Justice Ward states in his judgment to us, that none of the figures the Brad and Bingley presented in court appears on any of their official paperwork, he also claimed this matter should be investigated, Investigated by who?

Lord Irvine wrote to say "if you believe perjury was committed in court, it is a criminal offence and can only be dealt with by the police". What a beautiful world we live in. Crooks every where you look.

Keep the faith-------Justice will out.

Regards Roy.

-- roy jenkins (rjenkins65@btinternet.com), December 23, 2002.


Roy,

Thanks for your message. In fact Ruth Kelly is the Departmental Minister for HM Treasury (Financial Secretary) and John Healey is the Departmental Minister for Customs and Excise (Economic Secretary) see: http://www.hm- treasury.gov.uk/About/Ministerial_Profiles/minprofile_index.cfm

I agree with you their are crooks everywhere you look.

Best wishes,Mark.

-- M Amos (idgroms@hotmail.com), December 23, 2002.



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