Spanish Mortgage Holders Set to Receive Billions From Banks in Repayments
Greedy Spanish banks have to pay Billions
which is Great news for mortgage holders in Spain
This ruling will likely affect customers who got their mortgage from the leading Spanish banks such as Banco Popular, Banco Sabadell, Caixbank and BBVA. Analysts have suggested that banks have set aside an estimated €4.5 billion to pay back their clients.
The issue is all about the “floor” clause that was made a part of many Spanish mortgages. It gave variable-rate mortgages a minimum interest by placing a limit in how much mortgage payments could be reduced by alongside the benchmark rates, which was the Euribor rate for many of the banks in Spain.
The Euribor rate has dropped to historical lows since 2008, but when a mortgage holder had a “floor clause” attached to their mortgage it meant that they were still making repayments that were higher than the benchmark rate, meaning that they were unfairly losing out to the fluctuations of the property market.
This ruling is unable to be appealed and came as a bit of a shock to the banks, as the ECJ saying that there would be no time limit for reimbursements. As such banks really could need to pay back over €4.5 billion in rebates.
The decision to backdate the rebates to May 2013 was made by the Spanish Supreme Court to protect the banking sector as it continues to recover from a double-dip recession. However the ECJ clearly felt that banks have not done enough to protect their customers, which is why the ruling was made that floor clauses are illegal and that reimbursements must be paid.
One mortgage holder revealed in an interview with Bloomberg that he would be receiving a €6,000 rebate, which is about the figure the other 2.5 million customers with these illegal floor clauses can expect.
While many homeowners will be receiving a welcome little windfall as they recover from the festive period the same can’t be said for the banks. Some members of the banking sector had hope that the Supreme Court would step up and halt the repayments to protect the industry because of the exceptional circumstances, but the ECJ took the stance that customers should come first.
This ruling is another step in the right direction for transparency and maturity in Spanish banking and property. While it took far too long to get the repayments issued, the ECJ should be applauded for taking the steps they have.