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Coronavirus: important information

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Frequently Asked Questions

We've put together a list of frequently asked questions together with essential information you may find useful at this challenging time. This page will be updated regularly as the situation develops.

Last updated: 5 October 11:39


General / broker support

Are you still open for new business?

We’re still very much open for business, albeit with most of our sales, underwriting and support teams now working remotely. Our Business Development team are available between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.    

Product / criteria restrictions

Due to evolving market conditions we may have to change our product offers at short notice. We email registered intermediaries with notification of all updates, so please contact us to be added to our distribution list. We are presently offering the following products:

Available product ranges

- Residential
- Later life
- Self employed available on residential deals where the applicant has 2 years' accounts
- Self build
- Expat residential and Expat Buy to let
- Buy to let

- Holiday let

Lending criteria changes

- No debt consolidation
- Capital raising to gift to a family member available to 50% LTV

Underwriting

Are you still underwriting cases?

Yes, we have the majority of the lending team working remotely and a very limited number of underwriters working safely at our head office. For new case enquiries, please contact the mortgage sales team on 0330 1231073 option 1 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For direct enquiries to our lending team please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Do you have the ability to extend offers, including developments where completion may be/have been delayed?

Yes, we are offering a 3 month extension where required.

Can all offer documents be sent via the advisor?

No, the offer will need to come directly from ourselves.

With advisers moving to non-face to face, have you made any amendments to your lending criteria?

We currently accept non-face to face business, so no change in lending criteria required.

Will you accept a case as face to face if the client has been seen by the adviser over video link?

Yes.

Is there an impact on borrowing due to temporary loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Duty of care by broker and applicant require to advise us of any issues surrounding income due to COVID-19. Any temporary loss of income may impact the lending decision.

Will you accept applications from furloughed employees or self-employed customers who are currently taking support from the government?

The Society will continue to accept applications where the applicant is currently furloughed, accepting 60% of usual salary up to a maximum of £1,875 per month. If the employer is topping up the income in addition to the furlough payments we will accept this income, subject to verification. We will require confirmation the employee is not under immediate threat of redundancy.

Have you changed your criteria in the form of income you will accept e.g. overtime/bonus/commission?

Yes we have. For employed applications the Society will no longer accept any bonus, overtime or commission unless the income is for key workers, for example NHS nurses, locums, non-NHS bank nurses, care home workers and supermarket staff including delivery drivers. The usual % to be used will still apply.

Will you allow a remortgage to the Society as the new lender, for a client on a current payment deferral with their existing lender?

No, unfortunately we won't be able to help in these circumstances until 3 months' payments have been made following a payment deferral. However, if the applicant(s) repaid the deferred amount in full we may be able to consider these sooner, so please contact us to discuss prior to submitting an application.

Can applicants still capital raise on a remortgage?

We are very happy to continue to receive remortgage applications with capital raising except where the customer is looking to do debt consolidation. Where the customer is looking to capital raise to gift to a family member then the loan to value will be restricted to 50% LTV.

Given the current policies of social distancing and self isolation, please could you offer advice around your scanning of supporting docs / online documentation?

We will still require all supporting documents as requested. Online bank statements can be used for assessment, but not as proof of address verification.

There is no longer a requirement to have supporting documentation i.e. bank statements, payslips, ASTs etc certified. The broker declaration is also no longer required. Photo address and ID will still need to be certified for expat customers or where the customer fails the electronic ID search under the Society's financial crime policy.

Has your self employed criteria changed?

For self employed applicants we need to understand the industry they are working in and if their business has been impacted by the current situation. If the applicant is self employed in an industry that has been majorly affected by COVID-19 and had a large period of time where they were unable to trade, we are unfortunately unable to assist at the current time. For all other self employed applicants we require a minimum of 2 years' accounts and the accounts must be finalised not draft copies. When assessing cases, we will take the lowest of the applicant’s share of net profit or drawings & dividends. If the two years' figures are different then we will take the lower one. For sole traders, SA302’s will still be acceptable, however for partnerships and limited companies we will require accounts and SA302’s so we can evidence the profitability and personal income.

Has your day rate contractor policy changed?

Yes. We will still accept applications from those customers who work on a day rate contract basis but we will assess the income in the same way we would a self employed customer by using the income declared on their tax overviews and tax calculations. If the income figures differ over the last two years then we will take the lowest figure.

What is the impact on pipeline for self employed applicants?

For pipeline cases, if we are advised of a change in circumstances then the new income assessment must be completed utilising the limits above. If the revised assessment fails our affordability test then either a reduced loan size, extended term or putting the case on hold are options open to the applicants.

We would expect any brokers to advise the Society of any material changes in applicant’s circumstances and that would include applicants who have been furloughed. The Society will not accept income from applicants on zero-hours contracts unless the income is for NHS nurses, locums, non-NHS bank nurses, care home workers, supermarket staff including delivery drivers.

Are you able to assist where a self employed applicant has taken one of the COVID-19 self employment grants?

If the applicant has taken any of the business interruption grants due to being impacted by COVID-19, we are unfortunately unable to assist. These include:

  • Coronavirus small business grant fund
  • Local Authority discretionary grant fund
  • Business Interruption Loan Scheme
  • Bounce Back Loan
  • Retail, Hospitality, Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF)

Are there any other criteria changes?

On FMA’s/DIP’s an additional question will be asked which is for the broker to confirm that: a.) The customer(s) has not applied for a payment holiday with their current lender. b.) The customer(s) is not currently on furlough or aware of a plan to be placed on furlough. The broker/customer will also be asked that any change to income or expenditure during the application process must be declared to the Society.

Mortgage payment deferrals

Are you offering 3-month mortgage payment deferrals and extensions to original deferrals?

Yes. Borrowers seeking to set up a payment deferral must read the Society’s Guide to Mortgage Payment Deferrals, including representative examples before completing the Self Certification Form to set up a payment deferral.

Affected borrowers who are up to date with their mortgage payments and seeking a mortgage payment deferral are asked to complete and return our self-certification request form by post or by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (we suggest using secure email where possible). Agreed arrangements will not be reported to credit reference agencies. However, borrowers should be aware that lenders may use information obtained from other sources, such as bank account information, in their lending decisions.

Borrowers who are already in a payment shortfall or arrears will need to contact us in the first instance to discuss the options available.

Product switch

Will you allow product switches if clients are on payment holidays due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes, we will. The normal process will apply.

Valuations

What's the current situation with physical valuations?

Our valuers are now carrying out physical valuations wherever possible. Where physical valuations are required we will endeavour to get these carried out as soon as possible, but please be aware of possible delays as the industry adopts new working practices and requirements.

Conveyancing

Are you able to provide an update on solicitor SLAs?

As it stands the majority of panel solicitors are working remotely. Service levels are likely to be slower than normal, however relationships are being managed closely by the panel management company.

Given the current policies of social distancing and self isolation, please could you offer advice around your acceptance of digital signatures?

Unfortunately we do not have the ability to accept digital signatures.

Given the capacity and resource issue across the board, do we have any access points to escalate on your behalf?

If the need to escalate arises, please contact the underwriting team and we will escalate with the solicitors on the client's behalf.

What guarantees are in place to ensure completion monies will not be impacted?

We have a contingency in place to ensure completion funds are sent on the date requested by the solicitor when submitting their certificate of title and noting our usual timescales.

Self build mortgages

Is the customer able to release further stage release payments?

Yes, either a physical valuation will be carried out or we will utilise a process implemented with valuers, whereby the applicant will provide photo's, building control sign off and invoices to the valuer. The valuer will assess each case on an individual basis and provide a report. Monies be will be released on this basis.

Where to go if you need further help

Please call us on 0330 123 1073 if you need further assistance.

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