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Nationwide vows no repossessions on customers hit by coronavirus for year

Christina Hoghton
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Christina Hoghton

The lender said it wants to reassure people they don’t need to worry about the roof over their head

Nationwide Building Society has pledged none of its customers who fall into arrears due to the coronavirus will lose their home until the end of May 2021.

The only caveat is that borrowers who are behind on repayments must work with the lender to get their finances back on track.

Landlord customers are also being encouraged to pass on payment breaks to tenants who are struggling with rent repayments.

Under plans announced by the government today, all mortgage borrowers will be able to extend mortgage payment holidays by another three months.

Nationwide is to provide assessments for homeowners struggling with mortgage bills during the Covid-19 crisis to help the find best solutions for individual circumstances.

The lender said there will be cases where a payment break is not in the best interests of the borrower and in these situations, alternatives will be suggested.

From mid-June, the society may offer any struggling borrowers flexibility on repayments, for example, to move to interest-only payments or partial payments where suitable.

More than a fifth of homeowners are worried they will not be able to keep paying their mortgage, with one in ten worrying they could lose their home, research commissioned by the lender found.

Rent breaks for tenants

Nationwide also found more than a quarter of tenants are concerned they won’t be able to meet their rent payments, while almost a fifth worry that they’ll lose their home.

Landlord borrowers will be contacted by the society to let them know that they can have a mortgage break if their tenants require a rent repayment holiday.

The lender is also funding more advisers for housing charity Shelter’s helpline services, which provide specialist advice to those with housing, debt and welfare issues.

The society’s chairman and non-executive directors voted to donate 20 per cent of their net fees to Shelter from June to December.

Joe Garner, Nationwide’s chief executive, said: “There is a real need to reassure people, particularly those on mortgage payment breaks who are worried what will happen next.

“At a time when people are concerned about their jobs, bills and health, we want to do everything possible to ensure they don’t worry about having a roof over their heads.

“As a mutual, founded to help people into a home of their own, this is what building societies have always been about. We hope this additional support will provide extra flexibility to those who most need it, to help get them back on track.”

Nationwide is also asking the government to consider changes to the way housing support is provided, asking that Local Housing Allowance covers the 50th percentile of rents in any given area rather than the current 30th percentile.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Our emergency helpline has already seen a sharp rise in calls from people dealing with a wide range of housing and homelessness problems related to Covid-19.

“We’ve heard from renters who’ve suddenly lost their jobs and cannot make ends meet, to frightened families stuck sofa-surfing when they should be safe at home.

“Nationwide’s vital funding, which includes an extra donation from the society’s chairman and non-executive directors, means we can continue to be there for as many people as possible at this challenging time.”