NatWest branches in the UK and Ireland were picketed on Saturday as part of an orchestrated campaign to highlight a controversial ‘no DSS’ clause within its buy-to-let mortgage terms and conditions.
The clause prevents landlords with NatWest mortgages renting their properties out to those on benefits.
Saturdays’ campaign was organised by housing and poverty action group Acorn which claims it forced NatWest branches across the UK to close. Police were called to its branch in Bristol after a security guard refused to let protesters into its premises.
The demonstrations took place outside branches in London, Dublin, Brighton and Bristol but occupied branches in Newcastle and Manchester. As well as demonstrating about the mortgage clause, Acorn has also been highlighting the case of Belfast landlord Helen McAleer.
She is reported to have approached NatWest to extend her buy-to-let mortgage facilities but was told her tenant, who is in receipt of housing benefit, would have to be evicted for her loan to be approved.
RBS, which owns NatWest, recently told MPs in a written statement that it was ‘extremely disappointed’ with the way the case was handled.
Its CEO Ross McEwan (left), said that in line with a number of other lenders, its mortgage policy for landlords with smaller property portfolios includes a restriction on letting to tenants in receipt of housing benefit.
“This reflects evidence that rental arrears are much greater in this segment of the market and we are satisfied that this restriction does not contravene equality legislation,” he said.