Banks offer mortgage relief amid crisis

Butterfield Bank and other financial institutions are offering mortgage relief to customers impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
Butterfield Bank and other financial institutions are offering mortgage relief to customers impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

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Butterfield, Cayman National and RBC Royal Bank are implementing measures to provide financial relief to clients impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis.

In addition to lowering personal lending and mortgage rates, which will become effective on 23 March, Butterfield will introduce a three-month automatic payment deferral on all residential mortgages and personal loans in good standing. This means customers will not be making principal and interest payments for the next three months and any penalties will be waived.

This will assist customers who may be facing lower incomes or cash inflow at this time, the bank said in a press release.

RBC Royal Bank said most RBC Personal banking clients in the Caribbean will immediately benefit from an automatic three-month payment deferral on credit facilities. Business and corporate banking clients are also eligible for the relief programme, once they have been assessed by an RBC representative. Automatic payment deferrals will be applied as of 17 March and remain in effect until 30 June, or until further advised.

RBC Royal Bank client accounts must be current and in good standing as of March 2, 2020, to be eligible for the programme. RBC clients who are already participating in RBC relief programmes for other circumstances are excluded from the programme.

Cayman National President and Chief Executive Officer Stuart Dack said his organisation was conscious that many customers will require economic and financial support in the face of unprecedented challenges.

He announced Cayman National will assist clients in good standing by waiving up to three months of loan payments. He asked clients to contact their loan officers to take advantage of this assistance.

Butterfield will also introduce a payment deferral on credit cards for two months beginning in May, so that customers can skip May and June monthly payments without incurring any late fees.

In addition, business customers with remaining loan principal of up to $2 million, who are facing difficulties, can pay interest only on their next three monthly loan payments with no penalties.

Butterfield’s business and corporate clients with loan values greater than $2 million who wish to discuss credit and payment arrangements should contact their relationship managers, as these arrangements are typically more complex, the bank said.

Mike McWatt, Butterfield’s managing director in Cayman, said the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on tourism and hospitality, and its knock-on effect on employment has been sudden and significant. “We understand that the situation will make it difficult for some of our customers to service their outstanding debts. To make things easier for families and businesses, and to help the local economy recover more quickly post-crisis, Butterfield is taking these urgent, substantive steps to ease the financial pressures on customers in Cayman,” he said.

“We are working as quickly as possible to implement these changes, and we are here to support our customers throughout this crisis and beyond. We encourage anyone facing financial challenges to reach out to us so we can work on solutions together. We will continue to review these initiatives and will provide timely updates to customers,” McWatt said.

Customer need to be aware, the bank said, that the measures will result in an extension of the loan terms as interest on the outstanding balance, that is payable during the deferral period when no loan or interest payments are made, will be added to the outstanding principal amount.

This means that a payment deferral will increase the amount of interest paid over the life of the loan.

Butterfield customers who wish to maintain their current payment schedules and amounts should contact their relationship managers or the bank’s loans department on (345) 949 7055.

Full coverage: Coronavirus

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