Your Responsibilities as a Mortgage Holder

Mortgage and Responsibilities

First Published: Aug 22, 2009

To buy a house in this day and age, it is – for most of us – necessary to borrow money. There is obviously a section of society who are able to afford to pay in cash and own their real estate property without ever needing to borrow to support it. However, even those who can afford to buy property without a mortgage will often get one anyway. Their positive financial situation means that they can support a higher level of borrowing than the average individual, and therefore purchase a more desirable property. Others again will decide not to get a mortgage and continue to rent for the majority of their life because of the greater relative freedom it gives them. The fact is that having a mortgage confers upon you certain responsibilities which it is essential that you meet.

It may seem, with the failsafe aspects built into a mortgage – the possibility of a payment holiday, the ability to renegotiate and remortgage, and so forth – that there is less incentive upon an individual to maintain the correct running of their account. However, it needs to be taken into account that for every concession a bank gives on the basis of a customer’s inability to make full payment, there is a price to be paid in terms of “provision”. That is to say that a bank needs to set aside a certain amount of money to cover bad debt. For every time that a person defaults on a loan of any sort, that money needs to be dipped into. Every time that money is dipped into, it affects how a bank can set its interest rates on commercial and residential credit.

There are two kinds of “bad debtors” – people who do not pay towards their debts – and these are termed “can’t pay” and “won’t pay” customers. Both types of customer affect provision in much the same way, as the money needs to be set aside to cover their debt whether or not they could actually make the payments. However, from an individual, arguably moral, point of view, the “won’t pay” customers are unnecessarily driving up the cost of banking for those who are making their payments and running their accounts successfully. It would be poor business sense on the part of a bank to allow itself to be hamstrung excessively by the bad debts of its customers – so “good debtors” bear the brunt of the costs.

It could not be said that “can’t pay” customers have the same moral obligation to make their payments as “won’t pay” customers. But the fact is that if you are in a position to meet your debt payments – especially mortgage payments which are tied to risk both for yourself and for the bank – then you must do so, as to fail in this respect does not just penalise you, but others as well. It is also true that banks have their own responsibilities to live up to, but as consumers we have little sway in making them do so – so for our purposes, only our own responsibilities are relevant.