However, borrowers will be limited to a maximum of six months payment deferrals under the regulator’s guidance with those who have already taken this much not being able to extend further.
The regulator also confirmed lenders can use payment holidays and take other information into account when making future lending decisions, although credit references should not be affected by a deferral.
The guidance is set to cover payments up to and including July 2021.
Borrowers who have not yet had a payment deferral will be eligible for payment deferrals of six months in total and will need to apply by the end of February to take full advantage of the forbearance.
Those who currently have a payment deferral will be eligible to top up to six months in total as will those who have previously had payment deferrals of less than six months. This includes those borrowers receiving tailored support and those who are behind on payments.
Firms will provide tailored support appropriate to borrowers’ circumstances and this may include the option to defer further payments, but it will not be under the rules of the FCA guidance.
“Payment deferrals under these proposals would not be reported as missed payments on a borrower’s credit file,” the FCA said.
“This does not mean that consumers’ ability to access credit will be unaffected in future, as lenders may take into account a range of information when making lending decisions.”
Repossessions and interest-only
The FCA has also confirmed that no one should have their home repossessed without their agreement until after 31 January 2021.
And for interest-only and part-and-part borrowers, the regulator has extended its delay of capital repayments to those wishing to do so after maturity as well as before maturity.
This means that borrowers whose mortgages matured from 20 March 2020 can delay the repayment of the capital on their mortgage until 31 October 2021.
This does not include bridging or unregulated buy-to-let mortgages however.
Sheldon Mills, interim executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said: “Today we have confirmed further support for borrowers struggling financially as a result of coronavirus.
“The announcement we have made today, ensures that the support offered through payment deferrals is as flexible and accessible as possible.
“This means borrowers will again be able to access payment deferrals up to a maximum of six months. However, if you are able to keep paying it will be in your best long-term interest to do so. Payment deferrals should only be taken when absolutely necessary.”