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12 Dec 2012

Claim Unlawful Banking Fees Back From Standard Bank

Banking, Home Loans No Comments

Eva Smith (Attorney) @ Lucid Living

CONSUMERS who bought houses before June 1 2007 are urged to check their bank statements to establish whether they have
been overcharged on their home loan administration fees.
The administration fee on the home loan is R5. Any amount exceeding that, spells overcharged.

If you have been overcharged in excess of R5, please approach the National Credit Regulator or your bank to have the
overcharged amount reversed.

In a further boost for consumer rights, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has ruled in favour of the regulator in its case
against Standard Bank.

The bank was charging excessive administration fees on home loans that were granted under the Usury Act 73 of 1968, before
the National Credit Act (NCA) came into operation.

Annemarie Friedman, senior legal advisor at the regulator says this case was brought to the courts after it received several
complaints against Standard Bank for charging home loan administration fees in excess of the maximum allowed by the Usury
Act.

The Usury Act stated that no money lender could, as it regards a money lending transaction charge a borrower an amount
exceeding the sum of R5 (excluding VAT) for administration fees, Friedman said.

“We started investigating Standard Bank after we received complaints from Standard Bank home loan clients about the
excessively high administration fees that Standard Bank introduced to existing home loan agreements following the
introduction of the NCA”, she said.

The Usury Act was repealed by the NCA body. Despite the repeal of the Usury Act, the NCA included certain transitional
provisions relating particularly to pre-existing agreements under the Usury Act.
The NCA makes some of its provisions applicable to pre-existing credit agreements that would have been subject to the NCA
had it been in effect when those agreements were concluded, she said.
These provisions do not expressly deal with home loan administration fees.

Standard Bank argued that these fees are therefore unregulated, Friedman said. But it was the regulator’s argument that won
the heart of the presiding judge, Friedman said.

The credit regulator argued that Standard Bank could not charge home loan administration fees in excess of the maximum
amount of R5 as set out in the Usury Act, she said.

“The SCA favoured this argument and held that Standard Bank is not entitled to charge an administration fee on home loans
that existed at the time the NCA came into operation in excess of the maximum fee in the Usury Act until that fee is amended
under the powers conferred by section 105(1) of the NCA,” she said

Since the NCA came into operation, the minister (of Trade and Industry) has not increased the home loan administration fees
and the maximum of R5 is, therefore, still applicable, Friedman said.

“Consumers who entered into home loan agreements prior to June 1 2007 when mortgage amounts were less than R500,000,
should check their bank statements to establish whether they have been overcharged on their home loan administration fees
and should approach the NCR or LUCID“, Adv Thambiran, CEO of LUCID Clear Credit, said.

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