Broker and network JLM Mortgage Services has highlighted a practise which has seen increasing numbers of its remortgaging clients charged £10 for a copy of the title registration on the final remittance.
However, when challenged over these charges conveyancing firms are generally quick to remove them.
In an exclusive article for Mortgage Solutions, the firm called it unfair and morally reprehensible, asking: “If it was a genuine cost why would you remove it straight away?”
Should be clear opt-in
Speaking to Mortgage Solutions, JLM head of mortgage finance Sebastian Murphy (pictured) added: “The issue here is that these are promoted as fees free remortgage packages.
“The lender clearly doesn’t need this document nor does the client, therefore the solicitors or conveyancers are defaulting to charging it and hoping nobody challenges them.”
Murphy emphasised that customers remortgaging a property in which they already live would be unlikely to need a copy of the title registration.
“This should be a clear opt-in rather than opt-out, which means we’ll add it on and see if the client picks it up,” he said.
“It’s underhand, not clear and they know that most clients won’t even question it.
“It’s a strange state of affairs when a law firm charges for something you don’t actually require and then says it’s down to the client to tell them they don’t require it.”
Risk of regulatory action
Trade body The Conveyancing Association noted that services covered under fee-free deals would be decided between lenders and firms.
However, it warned that any firms not acting in the best interests of customers would be putting themselves at risk of regulatory action.
Conveyancing Association director of delivery Beth Rudolf said: “Any conveyancing firm is governed by similar principles to those of mortgage advisers, for example to only charge for work undertaken and to act in the best interests of the client.
“The regulators carry out inspections, so anyone breaching these principles would be putting themselves in a very precarious position.”