Mortgage complaints hit record high

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Complaints about mortgages and other secured loans hit a record high of 13,659 in the past 12 months, up 6% from the previous year.

Some 40% of cases were from homeowners struggling to make their monthly payments and a third of borrowers who had complained had already slipped into arrears with their lender, said the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Of all the cases received by the ombudsman where people said they were in severe financial difficulties, half specifically related to mortgage problems.

A typical area of complaint was problems directly related to difficulty in meeting payment plans.

However, only 30% of all complaints were upheld, with the FOS finding that in most cases what the customer was seeking from their lender was unrealistic, such as a suspension of payments or interest indefinitely, or having their debt written off.

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Chief ombudsman Tony Boorman said borrowers need to seek help and advice earlier if they are facing mortgage difficulties.

"Many of the cases where people face losing their home have been heart-breaking to deal with - but could potentially have been avoided. So if money is tight, you should never be afraid to ask for help or guidance. Speak up sooner rather than later, there's a lot that can be done to help before things get out of hand."

He added: "Consumers and lenders all have a responsibility to work together when problems arise. And though it pays to be realistic about the options available to you, if your lender isn't listening, we're here to give you practical, honest advice to help sort out your problem."

In order to improve the difficult situation homeowners are increasingly finding themselves in, the FOS has called on lenders to "get creative" when helping people get back on track - especially before payments are missed.

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