Clarifying Mortgage Penalties

Last month, the federal government published a Mortgage Prepayment Code to ensure borrowers are better informed by lenders (federally regulated institutions) when it comes to situations where mortgage prepayment penalties may be charged – namely, for the purpose of clarifying interest rate differential (IRD).

This is a positive step, because IRD calculations and penalties have traditionally been very confusing to borrowers.

IRD is a charge many borrowers face when paying off a mortgage prior to its maturity date, or by paying the mortgage principal down beyond the amount of annual allowable prepayment privilege limits. And IRD penalties can prove quite costly depending on the remaining mortgage term.

IRD is based on: 1) The amount that is being prepaid; and, 2) An interest rate that equals the difference between the original mortgage interest rate and the interest rate that the lender can charge today when re-lending the funds for the remaining term of your mortgage.

Most closed fixed-rate mortgages have a prepayment penalty that is the higher of three months’ worth of interest or IRD.

The new code requires that lenders “provide the information in language, and present it in a manner, that is clear, simple and not misleading.”

The Code requires lenders to provide, among other things:

  1. Annual Prepayment Information. This includes such things as prepayment privileges that the borrower can use to pay off their mortgage faster without having to pay a prepayment charge. Examples include making lump-sum prepayments, increasing the regular payment amount and increasing the frequency of the payment to weekly or bi-weekly. Lendersmust also inform borrowers of the dollar amount of the prepayment that the borrower can make on a yearly basis under the terms of their mortgage without having to pay a prepayment charge. As well, an explanation must be provided on how the lender calculates the prepayment charge for the borrower’s mortgage (for example, a certain number of months’ interest or IRD).
  2. Information Provided When Borrower Faces a Prepayment Charge. If a prepayment charge applies and the borrower confirms to the lender that the borrower is prepaying the full or a specified partial amount owing on their mortgage, the lender will provide, among other things, a written statement to the borrower including the applicable prepayment charge and a description of how the lender calculated the prepayment charge (for example, whether the lender used a certain number of months’ interest or IRD). If the lender used IRD to calculate the prepayment charge, the lender will inform the borrower of: the outstanding amount on the mortgage; the annual interest rate on the mortgage; the comparison rate that was used for the calculation; and the term remaining on the mortgage that was used for the calculation.
  3. Enhancing Borrower Awareness. To assist borrowers in better understanding the consequences of prepaying a mortgage, lenders will make available to consumers information on the following topics: differences between various types of mortgages; ways in which a borrower can pay off a mortgage faster without having to pay a prepayment charge; ways to avoid prepayment charges (for example, by porting a mortgage); how prepayment charges are calculated, with examples of the prepayment charges that would apply in specific circumstances; and actions by a borrower that may result in the borrower having to pay a prepayment charge.

Click here for full details of the code requirements from the federal finance department.

Courtesy of:

Maureen Young

Accredited Mortgage and Lease Professional
Dominion Lending Downtown Financial
Phone: 604-805-5888
Fax: 604-904-8608

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