FCA warns against self-cert overseas mortgages

The Financial Conduct Authority has warned against taking out a self-cert mortgage from a company based overseas.

Once upon a time, consumers in the UK were able to take out mortgages that let them self-certify the amount stated as their income in their application. One housing crash later and self-certification is no longer permitted in the UK, with the Mortgage Market Review having since introduced strict affordability regulations and checks.

The FCA’s warning arrives just as a new lender in the Czech Republic has been advertising heavily for business. Selfcert.co.uk, which launched on 18th January, announced just a few days later that it had stopped taking new applications until further notice due a “severe backlog” of people who have registered an interest.

“People have been contacting us since reports of the products returning first appeared in Novermber 2015,” says the site, which offers up to £500,000 with a maximum loan to value of 85 per cent.

“Unlike lenders in the UK, we have the freedom to decide for ourselves who we do and don’tlend to. We are not guided by the FCA,” adds the company.

Indeed, the FCA has restated that fact, advising consumers not to apply for mortgages due to the lack of protection it offers.

“If you take out a mortgage offered from outside the UK under the ECD, you will lose important UK consumer protection benefits, such as the right to refer complaints to the UK’s Financial Ombudsman Service and to be treated fairly when facing payment difficulties,” cautions the watchdog.

“Under the ECD, firms can only contact customers on-line, not by telephone or post. This means you will not be able to speak to the firm about your mortgage arrangements.”

Firms providing on-line services from an establishment in an EEA State other than the UK under the ECD have to comply with the law of that state, rather than with UK regulatory law, which means that if anything does go wrong, the responsibility is with the other country’s authorities.   

“Even if a regulated mortgage adviser in the UK recommends such a mortgage, you will not be able to get compensation from that adviser if it turns out you cannot afford the mortgage payments. This is because the adviser is not responsible for assessing affordability,” adds the FCA.

“Whilst we disagree with the points in [the FCA statement]” comments the lender, “we certainly think people should read it and decide for themselves. We are not anti FCA in anyway and people should listen to them with an open mind.”