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Oakwood policy for dealing with unpaid mortgage


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I have a question regarding my mortgage payments. Just before Christmas, a recruitment agency messed up my pay and therefore my mortgage payment didn't go out on the initial direct debit request by Oakwood.


I called them as soon as I realised, apologised and explained that I was waiting for the recruitment agency to sort out the problem and I would pay them as soon as the money was in my account. At this point I said I would try to call them next week to make sure the money was transferred.


Unbenownst to me, they then cancelled the usual process of re-requesting the direct debit 2 weeks after the first one, as I had said I would call. I wasn't informed this was the case at all. I didn't have a chance to call in the busy run up to Christmas and I was also going on holiday the day after Boxing Day but I made sure my money was in the bank for the 14 day re-request, as per a letter they had sent out after the initial request was refused. When I got back, I found I had an arrears on my mortgage account.


I called to sort this out but got a letter from them as follows:


"As you will be aware, your monthly mortgage payments have not been maintained.

We note that althought you may have been in contact with us, a solution to your current arreas situation is now required. As previously indicated, it is our intention to assist you wherever possible in this matter but we can only do so with your full co-operation.


We will therefore instruct a specialist external arrears counsellor to call at your home to discuss the options open to you with regards to your mortgage and other associated debts you may have. This is to obtain a solution, which most accurately reflects your needs and means, and is mutually beneficial to all parties.


There is a charge of £100+VAT for this service and this will be added to your account following the counsellor's first or actual attempted visit to your home.


We look forward to hearing from you further."


It seems strange to me that they can enforce a visit that will cost you £117.50 to talk about why you can't afford mortgage payments. Especially as it states that is this for the first, or attempted visit. So it seems they could send someone round without notice, while you are at work, and could then process a charge against you?


This is on top of the £50 they charge you for the original direct debit not going through, and the £25 you then get charged by your bank (although I am obviously claiming that back!). The recruitment agents are next to useless and have basically washed their hands of any responsibility for these charges and it takes over 15 minutes (on an 0870 number from my mobile) of waiting just to get through to Oakwood. It seems they aren't particularly concerned for anyone's actual financial situation and are just taking the chance to cash in. As it is, I have paid the arrears that was created through no fault of my own, but that will now go onto my credit record and I have yet to get a statement of any charges that have been levied on my account but wondered what the position would be if they have charged me a further £117.50 for this?


I also think this policy would cause nothing but further problems for people who can't pay their mortgage. How can they justify it, especially if you have called them to discuss the problem?

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No they can't and this is a penalty, pure and simple. Reply by saying that due to commitments on your time, you are unable to accept any appointments at present and should they attempt to send an agent on the off-chance, the cost for this will wholly be their own responsibility.


You probably will not see a statement outlining these charges as it could be used against them in any subsequent litigation. In the meantime, a useful safety net (if you can afford it) it to make one more additional payment, which means that you will always pay your account 1 month in ADVANCE, and this really takes the wind from their sails as you've always got 30 days leeway in case the same thing happens.

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