The mortgage holiday scheme for those hit financially by the Covid-19 virus is up and running.

The six-month home loan deferral scheme was arranged between the banks and the government.

Bankers Association chief executive Roger Beaumont said the banks can now offer to defer mortgage payments of principal and interest for up to six months.

But he warned that borrowers needed to be clear what they would be getting themselves into.

“While there are obvious advantages for people in need, repayment deferrals may extend the time it takes to repay the loan and will add interest cost. So it may not be for everyone.”

Beaumont said individual banks would have different approaches to implementing the scheme and they would assess the suitability for each customer who asked for a deferral.

“Banks will have different approaches to how they manage the process for customers to opt into a mortgage deferral. Those details, including eligibility criteria, will be available on bank websites.

ASB Bank asked customers wanting a deferral to fill out forms on line and they would be be contacted.

“We are here to help our customers get through by working side-by-side them and tailoring solutions that will best meet their financial needs now and in the future,” chief executive Vittoria Shortt said.

Westpac’s general manager of consumer banking and wealth, Gina Dellabarca, said different options would be available besides the mortgage holiday.

“Customers who have made extra payments on their loan previously may now find themselves in a position where they can reduce the amount they are paying instead of taking up the deferral option.”

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

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