* FCA: banks sometimes add arrears to mortgage capital sum
* Industry group says 750,000 customers could be affected
* Mortgage lenders to work out compensation by end June '17
(Adds industry reaction)
By Huw Jones
LONDON, Oct 19 Britain's mortgage lenders face
compensation claims from hundreds of thousands of customers for
incorrectly handling payment arrears, the country's financial
regulator said on Wednesday.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said lenders were
sometimes automatically adding arrears to the capital sum of the
mortgage and also asking for a separate arrears payment.
This meant customers already in financial difficulties were
temporarily overpaying on their home loans, facing extra fees
and charges, and further damaging their credit rating.
The FCA published draft guidance on Wednesday for firms to
work out compensation for customers by the end of June 2017.
An industry group set up by the FCA and representing 66
percent of Britain's mortgage market estimated that 750,000
customers could be affected, with compensation potentially
running to more than a hundred pounds each.
"Firms should start identifying affected customers
immediately and not wait until the finalised guidance is
published," Jonathan Davidson, the FCA's director of retail
supervision, said in a statement.
Affected customers will be contacted by their lender, and no
penalties are planned at the moment, but this could change if
proper compensation is not paid.
Barclay's declined to comment before studying the
FCA's consultation paper, while HSBC said it does not
automatically add arrears to a customer's capital sum or charge
any fees for being in arrears.
"Any payment plans on arrears are agreed with a customer
based on affordability and sustainability," an HSBC spokesman
Lloyds, one of the country's biggest mortgage
lenders, said it was taking time to carefully consider the FCA
The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), an industry body,
said lenders acted in good faith that their practices were in
line with the rules.
"Lenders are fully committed to ensuring that they review
past cases appropriately," the CML said in a statement.
"It is very unlikely that any customer in the past has
experienced repossession who would not otherwise have done so if
a different arrears calculation method had been used."
Typically, arrears are bundled into the capital sum
automatically when there is a "trigger" point, such as a change
in interest rates.
The Bank of England's rate cut in the summer means more
customers could be affected than the 750,000 initial estimate.
The problem came to light following a court ruling in 2014
that Bank of Scotland unfairly double billed customers who fell
into arrears on their home loans.
Following this ruling, the watchdog found that some banks
had failed to check their IT systems were compliant with the
FCA's rules on handling arrears.
Some lenders had been unaware they were double billing.
(Additional reporting by Sinead Cruise and Andrew MacAskill,;
Editing by Mark Potter and Susan Fenton)