After sales lender service reflects on intermediaries too

From Simon Fisher

Most of my recommendations to clients are rate and product based. When comparing similar deals I consider which company offers the best service and is likely to produce an offer in the most timely fashion to assist both the client and myself.

I wonder if I should be taking this a stage further by considering the service my clients will receive after completion.This is because of a recent incident with the Bank of Ireland.

My client approached BoI for a further advance on a buy-to-let property. She owns eight investment properties and bought the property in question four and a half years ago for only 47,000. It’s a one bedroom second floor flat in a four-storey Victorian conversion and the building is in a poor state of repair.Despite this the property has been consistently let ever since with a few void periods of no more than one month.

My client has been trying to get the freeholder to do maintenance work without success for three years and in response to yet another complaint they offered her the opportunity to buy the freehold for 12,000 with 1,000 to cover the administration of the sale. Despite this being slightly more than she believes the true value to be she was desperate to get the work done and accepted the valuation.

She got a local surveyor to produce a condition report, a schedule of works and an estimate of costs of around 8,000. She is working on a budget of 12,000 including a contingency fund.

BoI agreed to a further advance of 20,000 and instructed a survey for which it charged 80.

Upon receipt of the survey it declined the application due to it being ‘not suitable security for mortgage purposes’ despite the valuer putting a present condition figure of 75,000 on the survey. He had been informed of the works to be carried out and said an undertaking should be obtained, which the client was happy to do.He also said copies of building regulations and planning permission should be obtained, which they were when the property was bought.

My client complained, only to be told the property is in a deteriorating condition which would indicate the property has been visited more than once, though we believe this to not be the case. The client was also told the property is not easily lettable in its present condition even though it is already let and the survey itself states it is of average likelihood to be let in 60 days.

Complaining myself on behalf of my client I met with a brick wall from the manager who dealt with the complaint. They cited data protection issues and said the complaint was fully investigated and completed.

They refused to talk to me in general terms or with signed authority from my client. I suggested that as a gesture of goodwill the survey fee should be refunded as it ignored parts of the survey, but BoI instead suggested my client try raising the finance on another property mortgage with BoI.

I find this astounding and consequently have already remortgaged one Bank of Ireland and two Bristol & West mortgages (that were not subject to tie-ins) away. When the remaining ones come up I will be moving them too.

Be aware the ongoing customer service from lenders we recommend reflects on us in the future.