19 April 2016

Banks support ‘Mr Fluffy’ homeowners

| Canfan
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Five key banks have already offered their support for ‘Mr Fluffy’ homeowners ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher announced today.

Members Equity Bank, Beyond Bank, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Teachers Mutual Bank are among the first banks to advise the ACT Government they will be providing a compassionate response to homeowners impacted by loose fill asbestos insulation.

“I approached major financial institutions last month asking for a compassionate and responsive approach to this difficult situation in the ACT and the owners of the 1021 homes affected,” the Chief Minister said.

The five banks’ approaches differ, with measures in place including flexible loan arrangements and fee waivers, but all banks are putting in place Mr Fluffy relationship managers to offer special support to homeowners. The Asbestos Response Taskforce will next week provide homeowners with a formal letter outlining the buyback conditions and their eligibility that they can present to their bank.

“I am pleased that these five banks have pledged to provide a compassionate approach to the financing needs of affected homeowners as they transition to new homes and living arrangements.
“The Asbestos Response Taskforce is continuing its discussions with other banks on ways in which they can assist and I look forward to advising of more financial institutions coming on board to support the community. I encourage other banks to get on board do their part to support these homeowners at this difficult time.”

The Chief Minister said each bank was offering slightly different support, with homeowners best placed to have discussions with their individual banks on arrangements available.

“Some of these banks have agreed to put in place hardship and relief support similar to that accessed at times of natural disasters. Others will help homeowners’ service two loans rather than take on bridging finance when purchasing a new home.

“All of these five will ensure there is a relationship manager who understands the unique situation of affected homeowners. I encourage homeowners to talk to their banks about individual support which can be made available during this challenging time.”

ME Bank CEO, Jamie McPhee said it is important people know the banks are here to help people through this difficult time.

“Many homeowners understandably want certainty and to move on with their lives quickly. To help them ME Bank has agreed to lend on their existing Mr Fluffy affected homes using standard lending criteria, and as soon as they join the buyback. That means they can start looking for and potentially buy a new home as soon as possible,” Mr McPhee said.

Beyond Bank Australia Chief Executive Officer, Robert Keogh said, the Bank’s thoughts were with all residents affected by the ‘Mr Fluffy’ loose fill asbestos insulation.

“As a fellow Canberran I am well aware of the terrible legacy ‘Mr Fluffy’ has left us,” Mr Keogh said. “It’s an uncertain time for those affected by this and we want to make sure everyone is supported. To assist Beyond Bank Australia will offer loans to those affected using their existing ‘Mr Fluffy’ property as security as soon as they have joined the buyback. Additionally, we will also waive any upfront fees and charges associated with the loan.”

National Australia Bank General Manager Retail NSW South & ACT, Irene Rowlands, said NAB was committed to helping its customers and was fully cooperating with the Australian Capital Territory Government and the ACT Asbestos Response Taskforce.

“NAB has organised an Incident Management Team to coordinate the bank’s efforts with the government to ensure that people affected by the Mr Fluffy loose fill asbestos insulation have the support they need through this process,” Ms Rowlands said.

Steve James, CEO of Teachers Mutual Bank said they were already in close contact with a number of affected members to help them work through this situation. “We invite any other members who are impacted and have not yet come forward, to contact our ACT Manager so that he can assist them as soon as possible,” Mr James said.

The Chief Minister indicated that more than 490 homeowners have to date ‘opted-in’ to the buyback, and valuations were underway.

“We are also continuing to provide a range of support as well as emergency assistance for homeowners and tenants relocating from these houses,” she said. “More than 50 Relocation Assistance Grants have been paid as homeowners permanently relocate and to date $2.4 million has been provided to support homeowners through assistance as well as asbestos assessments of their houses.
“I encourage homeowners to continue to work with the Taskforce regarding their individual circumstances.”

More information is available at: www.act.gov.au/asbestos-response-taskforce

(Katy Gallagher Media Release)

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