The FBAA has urged brokers to reach out to clients who may have been directly or indirectly affected by the fires and assist them in navigating their options.
The Finance Brokers Association of Australia (FBAA) has called on brokers to reach out to clients who may be affected by the ongoing bushfire crisis and may be eligible for financial relief.
Many mortgage lenders have announced relief packages for customers who have been directly and severely affected by the bushfires, with most lenders offering to suspend mortgage repayments and waive fees for the restructuring of home loans.
Some lenders are also offering grants to those who have lost property in the fires or had their business premises severely damaged in the crisis – with Westpac recently announcing it would cover mortgage repayments for customers who had lost their homes for a whole year (up to $1,200 a month).
While those who have lost their properties are likely to have already contacted their lender, Peter White, managing director of the FBAA, called on brokers to reach out to any clients who could have been affected by the bushfires in other ways, in order to help them navigate their options.
“There will be those who have had to evacuate or who may operate a small business that has seen a dramatic drop in revenue because an area has been blocked off,” Mr White said.
“There will be others who have had to sacrifice their earnings to help friends, family or their community.
“Lenders are currently allowing people to momentarily stop their repayments, and while each situation is different, they are listening and helping and working with all borrowers.”
However, Mr White warned that borrowers who are unable to meet their repayments and cease to pay their mortgage without prior consultation with their lender could place their credit rating and their property at risk.
For this reason, Mr White encouraged brokers who are aware of clients that have been affected by the bushfires to help them contact their lender and find out what options are available to them.
“Chances are the bank won’t come knocking on our clients’ doors because they don’t know who is being impacted and who isn’t, but we can knock on those doors,” he said.
“Finance brokers are part of local communities, and we know many of our clients and their families personally, so this is a great opportunity for us to serve our clients and repay the trust they have in us.”
The call comes after the FBAA also made a public call-out to regional brokers who are themselves affected by the bushfires to contact the association for support, regardless of the association they belong to.
At the time, Mr White described the broking sector as family, outlining that family “supports each other during times of need”.
He commented: “Across the country right now, there will be finance and mortgage brokers who have lost property or maybe even worse, and we want to stand with them and support them personally.
“There may be a broker who needs office accommodation, housing, personal items, mental health support or a helping hand in other areas.
“So, our message to brokers across Australia is to contact the FBAA immediately if [they] have been affected or if [they] know another broker who has been.”