Campaigners targeted a NatWest branch at the weekend over its so-called discriminatory buy-to-let mortgage terms.
The campaigners oppose the fact that mortgage lenders restrict whether landlords can let to benefit claimants. They attempted to voice their discontent by storming the Bristol branch of NatWest on Saturday.
Activists from campaign group Acorn demonstrated outside the branch in Broadmead. They handed out leaflets to customers and passers-by, as part of an organised protest against what they see as discriminatory buy-to-let mortgage terms.
The protestors did attempt to enter the branch, but were denied access by security and the police.
There are growing calls for the Government to tackle discrimination against benefit claimants, after it emerged last month that NatWest told one landlord that she would either have to evict her tenant of two years or take her mortgage business elsewhere, due to a blanket ban by the bank on tenants claiming benefits.
The bank’s own buy-to-let mortgage terms state: “We will not consider multiple tenancies, Homes of Multiple Occupancy, bedsits, DSS tenants or ‘Related Person’ tenancies.”
Research by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) found that two-thirds (66%) of mortgage lenders representing 90% of the buy-to-let market refuse a loan where a tenant is claiming benefits.
Last week, the Work and Pensions Committee blasted lenders for adopting no DSS policies.
However, the CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland group, Ross McEwan, justified the clause in a letter to MPs: “In line with a number of other lenders… our mortgage policy for landlords with smaller property portfolios… includes a restriction on letting to tenants in receipt of housing benefit.
“This reflects evidence that rental arrears are much greater in this segment of the market and we are satisfied that this restriction does not contravene equality legislation.”
Regardless, NatWest has confirmed that it is now reviewing its buy-to-let mortgage terms.