After you apply to AFCA - Mortgage stress

Mortgage stress logoThe Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) will register your complaint and advise both you and the lender that it has been received.

AFCA may ask the lender to review the complaint and to try to resolve it directly with you.The lender has 21 days to work with you to resolve your complaint. If it is not resolved, the lender must notify AFCA. 

AFCA will check if:
•    it has the power to deal with your dispute (it must be covered by AFCA's Rules), and
•    AFCA’s process is appropriate for the dispute. 

If it does have the power and AFCA’s process is appropriate, AFCA will collect more information about the dispute.

What can happen if AFCA accepts my complaint?

Following receipt by AFCA of your complaint:

  • you may decide not to continue and withdraw your complaint
  • you may reach an agreement with the lender and resolve the complaint
  • you and the lender may not agree and a decision on the merits of the case  will need to be made by AFCA, or
  • your complaint may be closed if you repeatedly fail to provide information or documents requested by AFCA, or it decides it is not appropriate to continue to consider the complaint. This may be because:
    • the complaint is not likely to succeed, or
    • the lender has not committed an error.

What is AFCA's complaint resolution process?

Your complaint will usually be allocated for case management and review by AFCA.  AFCA may contact you and/or the lender to clarify issues or ask for more information. 

AFCA will generally try to resolve your complaint informally (such as by negotiation or conciliation).

If these methods don't work AFCA may make a:

  • a preliminary assessment, or
  • decision about the complaint.
What is a preliminary assessment?

A preliminary assessment sets out any conclusions AFCA have made about the merits of the complaint, the reasons for those conclusions, and their recommendations about how the complaint should be resolved. You will usually be advised of this assessment by telephone.

What happens after the preliminary assessment?

Your complaint will be settled if you and the lender both accept AFCA’s preliminary assessment.

If either you or the lender do not accept the preliminary assessment, the complaint will be referred to an AFCA ombudsman for a decision.

If the lender accepts the preliminary assessment but you do not respond, the complaint will also be referred to an AFCA ombudsman for a decision.

What other information might I need to provide?

You will normally be asked by AFCA to provide more information about your financial situation to support your request for a hardship variation.

This is usually done by completing a Statement of Financial Position. You may have provided this information when you applied for the hardship variation with your lender. 

Getting it right

AFCA will look at the information provided about your financial position when conciliating (and, if necessary, determining) your hardship dispute. It is important that the information you give is accurate.

If you have included expenses or amounts for things that the lender may consider to be luxuries, unnecessary or frivolous, ask yourself whether you can do without those things. If you are having trouble working out the amount of your living expenses, note that on the form.

Get help from a financial counsellor when completing these forms.

Your Statement of Financial Position must be consistent with your hardship variation repayment request. 

If your financial position shows that:

  • you have more money available than the amount you are offering in reduced repayments, you need to check that you have included all your essential expenses. If you have, consider offering higher repayments.
  • you cannot afford the repayments offered, the lender may decide you are not likely to keep to the arrangement or be able to get back on track with your loan and reject your application.

If you have checked that your income and expenditure is correct, and there is nothing you can change to increase your income or reduce your expenses, then you need to ask to reduce your repayments and/or consider selling your home.

More information


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.