Industry continues to support housing for Ukrainian refugees

Lenders continue to automatically waive relevant mortgage terms and conditions for the government’s Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

It has been more than six months since the news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine filled our screens. According to the United Nations, this crisis has caused the fastest and largest displacement of people in Europe since World War II. British people have responded with an outpouring of humanitarian support, and the banking and finance sector has heeded the same call.

When the government announced the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, mortgage lenders worked at pace to ensure that homeowners across the UK could participate in the scheme in a simple and frictionless way. This means that the relevant terms and conditions in a mortgage contract that might limit occupancy has been automatically waived. Lenders have ensured that processes are clear – borrowers simply need to check the instructions on their provider’s website.

To protect homeowners who chose to host a refugee, UK Finance and the Building Societies Association worked with the government to develop template licence and tenancy agreements. Although not compulsory, borrowers are encouraged to use these to clarify the terms of stay between the host and refugee.

While the Scheme asked that hosts commit for a minimum of six months, ‘thank you’ payments of £350 per month is available for up to 12 months. For those who wish to continue hosting or are newly able to open up their homes, the waiver on mortgage terms and conditions continues. The instructions remain the same – borrowers should review the relevant page on their lender’s websites.

Others may wish to step forward by privately renting their property to refugees who have had a host. The terms of Buy-to-Let (BTL) mortgages does not prevent this from happening.

The industry continues to do what it can to ensure that those who arrive in the UK can settle with ease. Access to a bank account allows refugees to receive benefits (including housing benefits), to make transactions like a rental payment, and to build their credit profiles. The industry has worked hard to open bank accounts for over 40 per cent of Ukrainian Refugees in the first three months of the Scheme. This coverage figure is also likely to be underestimated, as bank accounts are opened by individuals, and we are aware that many refugees entering the country are mothers accompanied by minors.

Support for those fleeing their homes to seek safety in the UK continues, and the banking and finance industry is committed to continue its efforts for as long as needed.

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