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Alice H
Alice H, Solicitor/Partner
Category: Law
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Experience:  Partner in national law firm
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We applied to the Post Office for a mortgage 9 weeks ago. The

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We applied to the Post Office for a mortgage 9 weeks ago. The PO submitted our documents, including ID docs to the Bank of Ireland (the lender) at the time. My wife checked on a regular basis that things were moving and four weeks ago, was assured that the bank of ireland had indeed received all the docs etc and that we could expect a mortgage offer any day. We are in the middle of a small chain, which contains on both sides, cash buyers. However, a day or two later, we discovered that our docs had not been received by the bank or ireland, or if they had, they'd been lost and hence, nothing had happened. The docs were resent by registered delivery, and arrived. This was more than three weeks ago. Since then, we've been in contact with the PO's area manager, who on an almost daily basis, has assured us 'oh yes, any day now the mortgage offer will arrive.
We are fielding calls from our estate agent on a daily basis that the cash buyers either side are pressing for exchange. our mortgage offer is blocking any movement. I phoned the Bank of Ireland today, only to be told that though are case had been escalated, the reality is that because the bank is understaffed, most borrowers request escalation and that 'escalation' merely means that our case is in an 'escalation queue'. I put it to him that we could be waiting a further two months - he agreed this is quite possible. We are therefore likely to lose the house, and with it a comfortable home for our family, including my 83 year old Mum, who is frail and eager to move out of her house, which is way to large for her now. I cannot believe that an industry can behave in such a tardy and irresponsible manner. We have done everything asked of us and received no service. Two questions:
1) is there anything an ombudsman can do to push the Bank of Ireland/Post Office to do the work for us?
2) Do we have a legal case against them. We do, of course, stand to lose the money we are paying in solicitors fees and other over this move.
My name is***** and I'm happy to help with your question today. I need to ask you some preliminary questions to be able to help you.
Has the bank actually made you a mortgage offer or will they have to consider your papers first?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Thanks for your help.

The bank hasn't made the mortgage offer, and this is what is stopping us from moving forwards. the Post Office supplies the service, but they use the Bank of Ireland as the lender. My wife met with the local branch of the Post Office many weeks ago. The member of staff there made an initial appraisal of our financial state and told her he could see no problem with us making the application. I was at the meeting where he put our details into his computer and he said at the time that applications could often be verified instantly. In this case it couldn't, for one or two minor reasons, and we sent our ID documents off to the Bank of Ireland (or rather he did for us). We were then expecting that it'd be a very quick response, because subsequently my wife went in to see him and every time he checked his computer and told her "oh, you'll have it by Tuesday...Thursday...certainly no later than next Monday" etc etc. It was about a month later that quite by chance my wife discovered that the Bank or Ireland had never actually received our ID documents!!! And this on the same day that the chap at the Post Office had told her face to face after checking on his computer and telling her "yes, they've got your ID documents, and theyv'e done all the checks, there is no problem". At this stage, we were starting to get calls from our estate agent asking us about the progress of our mortgage application (we're in a small chain consisting of cash buyers on either side and our mortgage was the only thing stopping the chain from moving towards exchange.)

We complained to the branch manager and he resent the ID docs by registered delivery, giving us the receipt as guarantee. A day or two later it was confirmed that they had arrived at the Bank of Ireland. At around this time, the Bank of Ireland did the valuation and search on the property we are hoping to buy. Again, we were assured that all that remained was for the bank to check our ID docs. We expected no further delay, as the Area Manager at the Post Office had told us that she had 'escalated' our case for swift completion at the bank. This was three weeks ago. The area manager had promised to phone my wife yesterday in the event the mortgage application had still not arrived.

I went to the Harpenden branch of the post office yesterday to pick up a registered delivery package which had arrived on Wednesday, and sure enough it was from the bank or ireland. However, it contained only the ID docs we had sent with a covering letter. I phoned the bristol branch, who handle mortages with the Bank of Ireland. The lady there told me she could not give me a timescale for our mortgage offer.

Yesterday afternoon, I phoned the Bank of Ireland complaint line for mortgages, where a man told me that our application had indeed been escalated, and was now sitting in an 'escalation queue'. I asked him what this meant, and he told me that because the bank is understaffed, it takes ages to approve mortgage applications and therefore most applicants request escalation of their case!!! So 'escalation' means, in effect, your application remains in more or less the same queue. I put it to him that from what he had told me, our application could take another two months. His response, and I quote directly "give or take a month".

So no, they haven't made us an offer, but we were told over and over again that there would be no problem because the Post Office had done the necessary checks and it'd just be a case of the bank signing it off. This is clearly not what has happened and hence we are now in real danger of losing the house, because I know the buyer for the property we are selling is losing patience and there are many other similar properties in the area which he could buy instead.

I feel that:

The Post office/Bank of Ireland have been disingenuous on a couple of accounts. Firstly, why were we told that our ID documents had been received when they hadn't? Secondly, why were we told that the mortgage offer was a formality, when it wasn't? Thirdly, why were we told time and time again that it'd be another day or two, definitely another day or two, over and over again, when they must have known this wasn't the case?

We trusted the Post Office's area manager, when she told us not to contact the Bank or Ireland because she would push things on for us. She would have known that the Bank or Ireland's underwriting dept was in a state of chaos. We were not told the truth, but had to find out ourselves.

My mother is 83 years old and frail. This move is largely in order for her to see out her days in the comfort of a decent home with her family around her. I will probably now have to tell her our deal has fallen through and we're back to square 1. I cannot imagine the effect this will have on her. She is itching to get on with the move to her 'dream home'.

We have been misinformed every step of the way by the PO and the Bank Of Ireland.

Thaks again for your help.


John Lapwood

PS could you possibly send me a response asap, as we're considering all possible options today re trying to get some action out of the bank or using a BBC consumer programme to expose the parties concerned to some negative publicity.

OK. Many thanks.
Based on all the information you have given I can answer your two most important points:
1) Is there anything an ombudsman can do to push the Bank of Ireland/Post Office to do the work for us?
-No. The Ombudsman's remit is when things go wrong or their is a failure in the quality of service. At this stage no offer has been made. You have no contractual relationship with BOI. They are still deciding whether to make you an offer. You can complain to BOI directly or take your business elsewhere - but you can't sue someone, for example, because they have yet to make a decision on whether to accept you as a customer or not. There has been a delay but the as you are not yet BOI's fee paying customer there is no privity of contract upon which you could sue.
2) Do we have a legal case against them. We do, of course, stand to lose the money we are paying in solicitors fees and other over this move.
-No, because there is no formal relationship between you as yet. No contract/no relationship = no obligation. They are processing your application but this is not the same as providing you with a service. You have the right to complain or take your business elsewhere but the delay does not amount to breach of contract because no contract has yet been formulated or agreed.
I appreciate this may not be the answer you were looking for but I have to give you an honest and objective legal opinion based on the law.
Alice H and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


thanks for this. We will push the bank more for a breakthrough.


John Lapwood