Up to 2,500 mortgage holders whose loans are serviced by Pepper Advantage Ireland are facing a jump in repayments, in some cases significant in size, after the company identified an error dating back up to 18 months.
The processing error meant that while the customers were informed about successive interest rate increases over the last 18 months and the changes were applied to their accounts, they were not actually billed for the higher repayments.
As a result, they have been underpaying their tracker and variable mortgages, in some cases since August 2022, just after the ECB first began increasing rates from their historic low.
Pepper has said it will not seek to recover the interest amounts that have not been collected in the interim and instead will take the historical financial hit for the error.
However, it is now moving to adjust the actual repayments of the impacted customers to bring them in line with what they should now be paying.
In the case of some customers, particularly those paying interest only or with tracker mortgages, this may result in a very substantial increase in their future repayments.
This is because since July 2022, the ECB has increased interest rates 10 times and those hikes are automatically passed through to tracker customers.
“Pepper Advantage Ireland is writing to all customers impacted by this error over the coming weeks,” the company said in a statement.
“Customer letters will explain what happened and include information regarding the options available for future mortgage repayments, which will now reflect the recent increases in the ECB rate.”
“No payments will change for at least 60 days to provide borrowers with time to work with Pepper Advantage Ireland to find an appropriate payment plan.”
Pepper says in recognition of the difficult situation this may put some customers in, it will offer them a range of options to ensure repayments remain affordable.
“These options will include everything from short-term arrangements that fix repayment amounts for a set number of months to longer-term solutions, such as extending repayment periods or implementing a temporary fixed interest rate reduction,” it said.
“All solutions will be tailored to a customer’s individual financial circumstances.”
The company has apologised to impacted customers for the error, the cause of which is still being investigated.
The issue affects around 2% of Pepper’s 130,000 customers and relates only to those whose loans it holds the legal title of, not loans it is managing for other lenders who continue to hold the title.
“Our teams are in place to help and can be reached on 0818 818 181 from 9am to 5pm Monday-Friday<” it said.
“Any concerned borrower can also find more information at www.pepperadvantage. ie/customer-update while we continue to work to resolve this issue as quickly as we can.”