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Buy to Let & LettingFinance

WTF Do West Bromwich Building Society Think They Are Doing?

It is not my fault the property market collapsed.

It is not my fault market conditions have changed.

It is not my fault West Bromwich Building Society cannot run their business prudently, efficiently and competitively.

So why West Bromwich Building Society, do you think you can pin the blame on me and the other 6,000-odd buy to let borrowers who took out a mortgage with you?

Why do you think you can now change the rules?

Why do you think you can pull out the “RTFM” card and jack up interest rates to sort your beleaguered business out?

Why did I sign a legally binding mortgage contract which clearly states my loan is a variable rate which is the same as the Bank of England base rate, with a premium of 0.99%, until the term end, when you can just change it?

Which is what you plan to do, just in time for Christmas this year.

Apparently adding another 2% premium to my mortgage will help you run your business more efficiently, prudently and competitively.

But I am at a total loss what any of this has got to do with me and the mortgage I took out with you SIX years ago.  My mortgage contract very clearly states what I am expected to pay for the term of my mortgage.

But, having spoken to your scripted call centre staff, it’s all contained in a little booklet of terms and conditions – which I hasten to add, is not referenced in my mortgage product offer.  And I tend to feel that important shit like: we can change the interest rate premium on your loan whenever we feel like it, should be explicitly pointed out to customers.

Because I had no idea.

I actually thought when I signed this contract I now had a mortgage deal as stated in my product offer.

More fool me, it would appear.

So I have lodged a formal complaint.  Which I fully expect to be forwarded to the newly established department: CAGDWBTCTSMA, which stands for:  Customers Are Gullible Dipshits Who Believe The Contracts They Sign Mean Anything

Well, you know what West Bromwich: SCREW YOU.

You are a thieving bunch of bankers who think you can crucify and bully your loyal and long term customers.  Customers, I may hasten to add, who used to pay a hell of a lot more interest on their loans before the Bank of England lowered the Base Rate.

But I didn’t have a crystal ball.

When I signed that mortgage contract with you all those years ago, I was taking (and am still taking) one hell of a risk in trying to run my own buy to let business prudently, efficiently and competitively.  Words, which I am sure you will understand.

I won’t bore you with the details of the tenants from hell I have had to endure at that property.

I won’t bore you with the complaints I had from the neighbours.

I won’t bore you with the sleepness nights I had worrying about what to do.

I won’t bore you with how I had to find several thousands of pounds to get that property back together again after the tenants from hell wrecked it.

I won’t bore you with my tales of F*CKING WOE because you don’t want to hear it.

My business is my business and, your business is your business.

I try and run mine the best I can – but you know what?  Sometimes SHIT HAPPENS.

And when you’re running a business you have to plan for it.  I can’t just decide to up the rent on all my other tenants and treat them like shit because of one set of lousy tenants.

It was not my other tenants’ fault.

So why West Bromwich, are you making other people’s mistakes my fault?

Why are you passing the blame to me?

Why are you treating me so badly when I have always been a good customer.

I have never come to you with a begging bowl when times got tough.  I never bothered you when my tenants stopped paying the rent, trashed the house and you still wanted your several hundreds of pounds mortgage payments every month.  I just got on with it.  I had to find the money to pay for it until I could sort the mess out.

Because that is business.

But that is clearly not how you run your business.

You expect every buy to let customer to get you out the shit.  To make up for your mistakes.

You tell me how fair you’re being that I can go elsewhere and you won’t charge me any admin fees.  Well, thanks for that – you may have noticed in the past few years, since I first took that loan out – the world has changed.  It is not very easy to get lending.  And it’s damn near impossible to get lending without exorbitant arrangement fees which are the equivalent of buying a small car.

But, oh sorry, I forgot, it’s because the world has changed which is why you’re screwing me.

Well what about when my world changed?  What about all the shit I have had to put up with because I bought that property?

At any point did you ever, ever see me running to you, asking for time, asking for money – asking for f*cking anything?

NO.

I have just got on with it.  I understood the mortgage contract I had signed and I just got on and paid the mortgage as I was legally obliged to.

So West Bromwich let me tell you something.  I have had enough of being bullied.  I have had enough of being harassed.  I have had enough of trying to run this property as efficiently, prudently and competitively as I can for you to come along with your sticky little fingers and stick them in my business.

I have fought tooth and nail to get this property back on track and it has taken me years.  The financial and emotional turmoil of being a landlord with the tenants from hell takes years off your life.

Where in the small print do I get compensated for that?

Oh sorry I forgot this is a one-sided contract where only one party – that is YOU – get to make up the rules and change them as you go along.

Well you know what.

I’m going to fight you.

* * UPDATE JANUARY 2015 * *

Sadly the class action organised by Property 118 has not been successful.  You can read the High Court Decision here 

29 comments
  1. Paul Davis

    This is the problem with Banks and Societies. They think they have you over a barrel. Many, many moons ago Nat West waited until I used an agreed temporary overdraft to the max to order and buy christmas stock in October, Then wrote to me saying the Area manager had reviewed my agreement and upped the % by an extra 2% over base. When I complained about the change in the agreement, I was told tough. At the time I had an unsecured business loan with Nat West of
    7k, I threatened them with if you don’t revert to the original agreement I will crash the company. He scoffed at me and said I had a good business and would never do that. So I did.

    Hindsight taught me it was a silly thing to do, but I felt good about it at the time and laughed all the way out of the bank at the expression on his face.

    Pyrrhic victory none the less, took me years to crawl back. But I have never trusted bankers ever since and refuse point blank to pay business bank charges. Currently using Santander business, and do not pay one penny charges. They tried to change this a while back but it was pointed out the claim in our agreements of Free banking for life went against any plans to start charging and Santander backed down. However we have no need for overdrafts or loans thus we bank with the bank and not the other way round. If the need arose we could easily walk. Not so easy if our souls were in hock to them.

    Tough battle ahead Sam, been there done that, wish you all the best.
    smiles
    Paul

    1. Sam

      Thanks for sharing Paul. We will see what happens. I personally believe West Bromwich are on very shaky ground and I intend to prove this.

  2. Richard Watters

    I’m another one of the 6,700 West Bromwich are trying to take for a ride. There is already a class action being organised to fight this. The real issue is that if they get away with it, no-one with a tracker mortgage is safe – and that includes residential borrowers. Bank of Ireland have already instigated something similar (also being challenged) that affects both Buy to Let and Residential borrowers. See my blog and the links on it to sign up for the class action.

      1. Manish Gandhi

        Hi, I am another stung my this scam -looks like west bromwich have the right to print money.

        Any ways to challenge this illegal move?

  3. Jason

    I can’t help but wonder if this mortgage was “mis-sold” as it’s headline description most probably included any fixed term interest rate followed by it’s variable rate but no doubt failed to mention the latter could be changed as they see fit. Yes, it’s in the contract but are they obliged to bring the most important aspects of such a contract to your attention. Good luck Sam

    1. Sam

      Thanks Jason, that was a thought which crossed my mind. However, on this occasion I truly believe WB are being deceitful and underhand. My contract makes no ref to the book of T&CS and that it should be read in conjunction or any other such * which would have drawn this to my attention. I do feel having checked my paperwork again and again this is downright illegal.

      If they get away with this then there is a REAL danger to anybody who holds any sort of tracker mortgage.

      1. David Lawrenson of LettingFocus

        A very eloquently put case, Sam.

        I do think lenders are taking quite a risk here and may well be hauled up on it, though it will require landlords to actually launch a class action.
        There does seem a real probability that other lenders will follow suit as I explain here:
        West Bromwich Building Society Mortgage Rate Hike
        http://www.lettingfocus.com/blogs/index.php/2013/09/west-bromwich-building-society-mortgage-rate-hike/
        David Lawrenson, private rented sector expert and director of http://www.LettingFocus.com

        1. Sam

          David thanks for the link and sharing. This is a scary situation and one which any mortgage holder should be afraid of. This will not end with West Bromwich BS – this is just the beginning.

  4. iAmALandlord

    There are two very simple reasons why the actions of WBBS are illegal, in a nutshell:-

    1) unfair contract terms (similar principles to the Foxtons case)

    and

    2) Financial Promotions regulations, specifically with reference to the principles of the being “clear, fair and not misleading”.

    Obviously there’s a lot more to it than that, the submission from barristers to the Financial Ombudsman Service in respect of the Bank of Ireland case, which is very similar, was 32 pages long!

    1. Sam

      Thanks Simon – do you think it would be the SCREW YOU which people would find offensive in a national newspaper 🙂

      Thanks for link share to Daily Mail I hadn’t seen that. I am interested to note the discrimination which WB are employing.

  5. Jose_Rayes

    Hey Sam, what a rant! But I couldn´t agree more… I did´t know what the West Brom was doing before I read your post, now I have so say that you´re so right. I hope this ends well for you and the other 6,700 landlords…

    1. Sam

      Thanks – I am sure this will be a long fight. However, this isn’t just about me and the other landlords – if WB can get away with this, the floodgates will open to all lenders and this will most likely affect anybody who has a mortgage.

  6. Andy

    I only opened my letters (I’ve got two) an hour ago, so I’m still at the totally ARGH! state of mind.
    They have got to be on really thin grounds. It seems all to be down to the actual wording. The booklet, yes I’ve still got it dated 2006, is a generic booklet that applies to all their mortgages and as such section 5.1 should be read in conjunction with and overridden by any special terms on the “offer of loan letter”. (Which state a fixed rate above Base rate- until the end of the term)

    Next:
    I was sold a “fixed rate” Tracker. not any variable rate they choose.

    Next:
    Section 14, if I grumble will they give me one months notice to repay in full?

    Next:
    I’m on interest only, and up to this point been on track to repay the capital. How can I be expected to plan for this?

    Next:
    My Financial advisor said it was a BOE tracker, I wonder if their insurers would like to make some representations.

    Next:
    Sign up for class action.

    Next:
    Natwest tied something similar a few years back. Tried to say it was their base rate that it tracked and not the BoE. They where forced to relent.

    Next
    The short of is they took a gamble that they would make a shilling or two… and lost… but only for now.
    There is another 19 years to go on mine so what’s going to happen when the BoE rate rises, will they drop the rates.

    Thanks for giving me space to vent

    Andy

  7. Rob and Julie

    There’s also comment on the Telegraph website and it was partly due to our 4 letters dropping through the letter box which triggered this article. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/borrowing/mortgages/10337264/Victims-of-tracker-rises-begin-fight-back.html – apparently WBBS might have trawled through credit reference agencies to discover who they may be able to target – it’s not the fact one might have >2 WBBS BTL trackers we have been given to understand they may have looked at who had BTL mortgages with other lenders too – very underhand and unethical. We sense there is little sympathy for BTL landlords out there from the public in general – they all seem to think we are rich beyond their wildest dreams and do not have to do any work. The emphasis from this situation should be the potential impact on everyone who has a loan, mortgage or even savings with any banking institution whatsoever – if they think they can move the goalposts they will! Do you know Jonathan Westhoff (Chief Exec of WBBS) is on a salary package in excess of £500k + incentives? We have already put in a formal complaint, fully intend to pursue them and have pledged support for the class action. We feel that all of what Sam says is true but if you go to the nationals the language needs to be moderated and make more of the banks riding roughshod over anyone they please not just BTL.

    1. Sam

      Rob and Julie, I guess we should not be surprised by WB’s underhand and unethical tactics given they hid key mortgage contract clauses in a supplementary booklet. I agree with you – this issue is not just about BTL – this is about anybody who has a mortgage. This case clearly illustrates unfair contracts – and highlights the perilous situation any mortgage borrower could be in.

  8. Oh Well...

    As a commercial (business) borrower you need to understand that you are bound by terms and conditions. Like any other business there is risk. Learn from this, and move on. You lost…

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