Sunday, 25 March 2007

A new vehicle for exploiting the poor - the mortgage

The details may change, but the story is the same: vulnerable people being exploited by unscrupulous loan merchants.

"Council house tenants are losing their homes after being targeted by mortgage companies encouraging them to borrow ridiculous amounts of money to buy their properties.
Debt advisers say there is a growing trend of people living in council properties being targeted with loans and mortgages they don't have the ability to pay.

Ismail Ali, 71, was persuaded to take out a mortgage costing £430 a month, despite his monthly income being just £517. He has now lost his council home of 15 years and is living in a seamen's hostel in east London.

He was approached by a mortgage broker who slipped a leaflet promoting the idea of 'right to buy' through his door. “'I'd never thought of it till then. I phoned up and they sent somebody to see me who suggested I buy my home. He told me about the discount the council would give me on the price which made me interested.” PBF Financial of Basildon, Essex, arranged a £75,000 mortgage for Mr Ali - £15,000 more than the price of his one bedroom flat in Canning Town.

The mortgage company that lent him the money - GMAC-RFC, partly owned by General Motors - says the application form stated Mr Ali was a book-keeper earning about £24,000 a year. In fact Mr Ali's working life was spent at the Royal Mint until it moved to Cardiff, and then as a seaman. He says he has no knowledge of how the book-keeping information was included on the form, which he doesn't remember signing.

Mr Ali initially used the extra £15,000 to meet his monthly mortgage payments of £430, but when that ran out he fell into arrears, his electricity and gas were cut off, and his home was repossessed at the end of January."

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