In a statement emailed to brokers and posted on its homepage, QCAS admitted that it had received a large increase in work but blamed calls from brokers for affecting its service levels to lenders.
As a result it directed brokers to the LMS Casecheck website and said it would prioritise calls and emails from borrowers instead.
The move by QCAS is the latest in a series of problems to beset the conveyancing industry and particularly firms offering free legal services.
The statement read:
“As you may be aware the remortgage industry is currently experiencing an unprecedented level of demand.
“We have seen a large increase in the volume of work and our service to our lender clients is being affected by the high level of calls from mortgage brokers requesting updates.
“If you need information on the status of cases, please go to the LMS Casecheck website www.lms.com/casecheck.
“In the short-term we have had to take the practical decision to prioritise calls and emails from borrowers, as customers of our clients, rather than those of brokers.
“However, as someone who is actively involved in the remortgage industry, we hope that you understand the situation and ask that you be patient whilst we focus on progressing cases.” (The full statement is available below.)
QCAS also included a series of points addressing questions most frequently asked by brokers.
In a response to Mortgage Solutions, QCAS head Victoria Mortimer said the firm had increased its existing team by 50% “to ensure that we have more than enough trained staff to process current levels of demand.”
She continued: “The mortgage industry is currently experiencing very high levels of demand, due to the launch of a series of new, popular products.
“Increased applications coupled with very few professional suppliers such as ourselves have put temporary pressure on the remortgage market.
“We accept that there have been delays and have put a system into place to make communications with the brokers more efficient, while also increasing our own staffing levels. We apologise if this has inconvenienced our customers.
“The process is now working much more effectively although some customers may still experience longer than average waiting times on calls but this does not affect the progress of cases,” she added.
QCAS is based in Leeds and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of law firm Shulmans.
In response, LMS chief executive Andy Knee noted that panel members could prioritise calls at busy times, but that it was still supporting brokers.
“LMS has not sent out any communication for brokers not to contact us via the phone,” he said.
“However, we understand that at certain times, law firms from our panel may wish to prioritise customer calls and therefore encourage brokers to utilise an alternative approach to obtain case updates when volumes are high.
“Having said that, LMS has state-of-the-art technology that enables cases to be tracked in real time and law firms are quite right to encourage brokers to utilise it to help them avoid delays and provide their own customers relevant and timely updates.”
Knee added that LMS strove to help broker customers in any way it could and that for anyone struggling to access information, its Casecheck service phone lines remained open to all.
Brokers speaking at a recent Mortgage Solutions Supper Club noted that the problems with free legal services had got so bad they were trying to persuade clients to use cashback options rather than free legal services whenever possible.
The QCAS statement in full:
As you may be aware the remortgage industry is currently experiencing an unprecedented level of demand.
We have seen a large increase in the volume of work and our service to our lender clients is being affected by the high level of calls from mortgage brokers requesting updates.
If you need information on the status of cases, please go to the LMS Casecheck website www.lms.com/casecheck
In the short-term we have had to take the practical decision to prioritise calls and emails from borrowers, as customers of our clients, rather than those of brokers.
However, as someone who is actively involved in the remortgage industry, we hope that you understand the situation and ask that you be patient whilst we focus on progressing cases.
Please accept our apologies if your call or email is not answered as quickly as you would like, please be assured that the cases are being progressed proactively and in a timely manner.
The following points should answer some of the questions that we are being asked most frequently by mortgage brokers:
1) An acknowledgement email will be issued to the customer when the questionnaire pack is processed.
2) We will endeavour to complete as soon as possible unless told otherwise and an email confirmation will be sent to your offices when a completion date is set and again when the remortgage has completed.
3) If your query relates to completion please note that any surplus funds should be received into the customer’s nominated bank account by 6pm on the day of completion or the next business day.
4) Please note that any certified copy proof of identification and address cannot be accepted via email so please kindly post the hard copies to 10 Wellington Place, Leeds, LS1 4AP.
5) You will find our bank details at www.qcas.co.uk
Thank you once again for your co-operation.