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Barclays and HBOS are about to be hit by mortgage litigation costing a possible £850m, following changes to the rules on consumer loans.
Hilary Messer, a partner at South East firm RWP Solicitors, is drawing up plans to sue the two major banks on behalf of the 8,500 people who took out zero interest housing loans in the 1990s.
HBOS and Barclays launched mortgage products called shared appreciation mortgages, which saw the banks take up to 75 per cent of the appreciation in value of a property in return for providing a zero or fixed-interest loan.
Some homes have appreciated £300,000 in the 10 years since the loans were made, meaning the homeowners have had to pay more than £200,000 on loans as low as £25,000.
Messer says that the terms were too harsh and changes to the law could mean that the homeowners are in a position to renegotiate the terms in court.
She said: “We’ve taken advice from eminent leading counsel that homeowners should take action and take action quickly. We want to take on the banks and we have 100 people committed to going forward already.”
Messer added that if all 8,500 homeowners came forward, cutting an average of £100,000 off each of their repayments, the banks could lose hundreds of millions of pounds in expected revenue. Some properties have seen more than £1m added to their value.
The firm has set up a website, www.samgroupaction, to encourage people to sign up to the litigation. Messer is waiting for more homeowners to come forward and has not yet instructed counsel or informed the banks.