Santander continues to face the wrath of private tenants after it emerged last month that there is a clause in its buy-to-let mortgage contracts requiring landlords to raise rents by “as much as can be reasonably achieved” whenever possible.
The Acorn group, which lobbies for an ethical letting policy and calls for fairer rents, plans to hold demonstrations outside Santander branches across the country this Saturday, a fortnight after it emerged that there is a clause in the bank’s contracts.
The Santander contract states that when “rents are up for renewal the landlord must get written advice from a qualified valuer [as to] whether the market rent at the date of the review is likely to be higher than the rent currently payable”.
But Acorn members are now hoping to get signatures for a nationwide petition calling for Santander to drop the clause.
An Acorn spokesman told the press: “Santander Bank is screwing tenants with a clause in their buy-to-let mortgages requiring landlords to charge maximum possible rent.
“We'll be picketing them, collecting signatures for our petition and handing out leaflets to inform the public of their dodgy practices. It’s a day of action demanding that they scrap the clause.
“Private tenants in the UK already pay the highest rent in Europe. Average rents have increased faster than wages, and Santander made £2 billion profit last year have been forcing up rents since 2011 with this clause.”
He added: “With tenants facing a triple burden of insecurity, poor standards and already extortionate costs, Santander's lust for profit above all else is making it harder for tenants to afford a home.
“We are calling on Santander to scrap the clause in its contracts and enable landlords and tenants free to negotiate costs.
“If Santander do not act quickly to remove the clause, it will not only continue to put pressure on hard-pressed renters, it will continue to threaten long-standing relationships between responsible landlords and their tenants.”
A spokesperson for Santander says that the policy is under review.
She said: “We recommend that landlords should set their rents at a prudent level that is fair for the tenant and based on market rates, ensuring that they are able to continue to service their mortgage.
“The clause in question has formed part of our mortgage terms and conditions since we re-entered the buy-to-let market in 2011. It forms part of our terms and conditions because it is important to us that our customers can continue to afford their loan repayments.
“It is in no-one's interest for a landlord to default on a loan (including the tenant).
“We recognise that it is for the landlord to set a rent that both they and the tenant agree upon. As with all our products, the mortgage terms and condition remain under constant review and we will review this particular clause now that we are aware that it can be misunderstood.”