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Need help with your home loan? Act fast. We take a look at four banks that are offering relief.

Last week, the Prudential Authority of the Reserve Bank announced proposals to relax the reserve requirements for banks so they’re able to free up capital usually held as security against any loans they grant.

This is especially good news for small businesses and for homeowners because it will give banks more scope to restructure all sorts of debt, including home loans, and to advance more credit to help businesses keep going and retain their employees.

Meanwhile, all of the “big four” banks that account for most of the home loans in SA have announced various ways they’re seeking to help homeowners and other borrowers, and those who anticipate that they’ll have trouble making repayments on their loans are advised to contact them as soon as possible.

Absa: Homeowners who would like to apply for relief should mail bondrs@absa.co.za.
The bank is offering opt-in payment relief to all customers whose accounts were up to date prior to the Covid-19 crisis. This could take the form of reduced monthly payments for an agreed period or deferred payments for three months. However, interest will be capitalised for the relief period and the existing loan period will be extended, so those who are able to continue paying now are advised to do so. More details are available here.

FNB: Customers who need payment relief are advised to use the usual digital and assisted banking channels and a dedicated Covid-19 icon on the FNB banking app. The bank says it will be providing relief across all types of loans and credit arrangements its clients may have from 1 April to 30 June, provided they’re currently in good standing. It’s also offering reduced interest rates on any Covid-19 interventions and will not be taking any fees on relief measures.

Nedbank: Customers who need payment relief should call the dedicated debt relief centre on 0860 110 702 and homeowners who need help can also email HLCollections@Nedbank.co.za or MoratoriumRequest@Nedbank.co.za. A comprehensive Q&A document spelling out what relief could be available and how to apply, is available here.

Standard Bank: Standard Bank was the first to offer instant payment relief to small businesses and students and now also has various debt relief options for other clients, including those with home loans. They can email debtcarecentre@standardbank.co.za or call 0860 123 000 or request a call back here.

Think on your feet

Please treat any text, phone call or email from someone offering to help you restructure debt with suspicion. Most of these offers are from fraudsters and scammers who will claim to represent your bank but are actually just trying to get hold of your personal details –especially your banking pins or passwords. Never, ever be pressured by such people into parting with any details like ID numbers, pins or passwords or into taking any kind of action regarding your money.

It’s much safer to contact your bank if you need help. Genuine bank messages or employees calling from a bank will never ask you to disclose security details. Banks will also never ask you to move money to a different “safe” or “special” account.

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