Questions Of Cash: End of mortgage deal left us out of pocket
Q. We recently checked our mortgage statement with Lloyds TSB and found that the last two payments had gone up by nearly £150. Our branch informed us that our fixed-rate mortgage had expired, though we received no notification of this. A letter had been sent out, but we did not receive it. Around this time we received a letter from the police informing us that a mail bag had been stolen. We spoke to Lloyds TSB again, who informed us that it was our responsibility to check statements. This is difficult when they only send them out once a year. We then had to foot another month of increased payments and pay a further £399 to take out a three-year fixed rate.
JK, St Albans
A. Your situation is unpleasant, but it is the borrower's responsibility to ensure they know when a fixed-term mortgage expires. As you found out to your cost, banks' standard variable rates (SVRs) can be much higher than the fixed-term deals. A Lloyds TSB spokeswoman says: "It is unfortunate in this instance that this customer's post went astray as it is normal practice for us to mail our customers to let them know where they are with their mortgage payments. It is important for people to remember that once the fixed term is up, so is the discounted rate."
Q. In August last year, I was paid a VAT refund by HM Revenue & Customs of £42.87. Unfortunately, the payment was made to my previous bank account with Barclays, which I had closed. HM Revenue & Customs and myself have been trying to recover this money, unsuccessfully.
I closed my Barclays account in June 2003 and had been under the impression that Barclays promised not to reallocate account details for two years. But they have reallocated my account details sooner than that, with the result that the money was credited to another person's account.
A. According to the details you have provided us, there was more than two years between the time you closed your account and the credit transfer being made by HM Revenue & Customs. But Barclays says that you actually closed your account earlier than you recall - in March 2002. The bank says the account details were reallocated in May 2004, more than a clear two years later.
However, Barclays does not guarantee not to reallocate details in under the two years. But the good news is that Barclays is paying you the wrongly transferred £42.87 and will try to recover the money from its new customer.
Q. After British Gas conducted an annual central heating service in 2004, we found a leak. The engineer said this was not a problem, as it would seal itself. But the electricity failed as a result of the leak and would not go on again. Our insurers arranged emergency repairs, but charged us the excess. The insurers offered to make arrangements for permanent repairs with British Gas, but nothing has happened.
A. British Gas has now revisited your property and inspected the damage. It says it doubts that the damage has resulted from its service, but cannot be certain. In the circumstances, as a gesture of goodwill, it has arranged for one of its electrical engineers to carry out the permanent repairs free of charge.
Q. I'm renting a flat through a letting agency. The previous tenants have warned me that the agency held their deposit of £800 for two months, claiming they needed proof that all bills had been paid. Yet all of the bills were in their name, and now they are in mine. The owner is not responsible for anything. Should I expect they will hold on to the deposit in a similar way at the end of my contract? Is this legal?
MR, by e-mail
A. Tenancy protection legislation is notoriously weak. Citizens Advice says that, providing the practice accords with your contract, the landlord and its agency should be on strong legal ground for withholding the deposit in this way. New tenancy protection legislation will be in place from October, which will require that deposits are returned within 10 days on lettings that begin after this.
Q. Mobile phone company 3 has sent debt collectors to see me for old bills. But I have refused to pay because my mobile phone did not work and I sent it back to 3 for repair almost a year ago and I am still waiting for it to be returned.
JL, by e-mail
A. Your handset was taken in for repair by your then boyfriend. 3 dispatched the phone after repair to the retailer where it was deposited, awaiting collection. It then notified your former boyfriend, as arranged. However, it appears that your former partner failed to pass on the repeated messages from 3 that your handset was awaiting collection.
Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. Please do not send original documents. Write to: Questions of Cash, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; email@example.com.
- 1 'He was lucky he didn't die' - George Michael fell out of speeding car onto M1 motorway, according to eye witness
- 2 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 3 After woman sells virginity for $780,000, here are the results of our prostitution survey
- 4 Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
- 5 'It was just like the movie Twister': Man survives Oklahoma tornado by taking refuge in horse stall
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
iJobs Money & Business
£850 - £1000 per day: Orgtel: Programme Change Manager - Banking - London - £8...
£180 - £230 per day: Orgtel: Operations Analyst - Leading Bank in the City of ...
£500 per day: Orgtel: A top tier banking client urgently requires Finance Busi...
£425 - £550 per day: Orgtel: Senior Finance Project Manager - £550 - Bristol -...
Day In a Page
A modern home of almost 1,000sq ft is close to Stoke Newington's high street. £499,950
A five-bedroom bungalow in Hoveton with riverside garden and mooring dock, £550,000
A refurbished one-bedroom flat with south-facing reception and high ceilings. £579,950
A four-bedroom Grade II-listed house in Nazeing with large gardens. £550,000
A modern four-bedroom house in a converted stable within walking distance to Peckham Rye. £695,000
Three-bedroom house in a quiet residential area within close distance to Battersea Park. £450,000
A three-bedroom cottage within commuting distance of London, Norwich and Cambridge. £250,000
A two-bedroom cottage with a sun room and gardens in South Chard. £350,000.
A three-bedroom semi-detached house with original features including fireplaces and wooden flooring. £399,950
A modern two-bedroom flat split across two floors and close to several public transport links. £595,000
A one-bedroom flat with an open-plan reception/kitchen and private balcony. £315,000.
A bright two-bedroom garden flat between South Acton and Chiswick Park. £499,950.
A listed four-bedroom farmhouse with stables, set in four acres. £500,000.
A three-storey family home with four bedrooms and an extended kitchen/diner. £995,000.
A three-bedroom Hamstone cottage in the rolling Somerset countryside. £430,000.
A luxury one-bedroom apartment on the first floor of a converted Victorian house. £425,000.