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Financial Ombudsman reports record number of mortgage complaints

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

Homeowners lodged a record number of mortgage complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service last year.

Some 13,650 people contacted the service for help with a mortgage or secured loan problem – the highest figure ever recorded.

However, the ombudsman service, which helps resolve disputes between consumers and UK financial service firms, said increasing numbers of people concerned about losing their homes are in ‘debt denial’ – and risk leaving it too late to seek help.

The data shows a third of people had slipped into arrears before contacting the ombudsman.

Of the remaining cases, the ombudsman said a large number of people struggling to make ends meet felt unable to say they were facing significant financial problems – or were concerned about the impact of telling their lender of their situation.

Chief ombudsman, Tony Boorman said: “Mortgages are the most significant purchase most of us will make in our lives, so we understand why people might be reluctant to say that they’re struggling to pay for their home.

“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.”

The ombudsman upheld around a third of all mortgage complaints last year. But on many occasions, what the customer was seeking was unrealistic – like suspending payments or interest indefinitely, or writing off debt.

Of all the cases received by the ombudsman where people said they were in severe financial difficulty, half involved mortgage problems.