After you apply to AFCA - Mortgage stress
Once you lodge your complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), it will be registered and AFCA will contact you to confirm it has received your complaint. AFCA 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 will notify AFCA.
Once the lender's response is received, AFCA will start its initial investigation and collect more information about the dispute. AFCA will also check that:
- it has the power to deal with your dispute (it is covered by AFCA's Rules), and
- it is appropriate for the dispute to be considered by AFCA's process.
What can happen if my complaint is accepted by AFCA?
In general, the possible outcomes at AFCA:
- you decide to not continue with your complaint and withdraw the complaint
- you and the lender reach an agreement to resolve the complaint
- you cannot agree and a decision on the merits of the case is made, or
- the complaint is closed because you repeatedly fail to provide information or documents requested by AFCA or it decides it is not appropriate to continue to consider the complaint, for example, because
- the complaint is not likely to succeed
- the lender has not committed an error.
What is AFCA's complaint resolution process?
After your complaint is accepted by AFCA, it will usually be allocated for case management. AFCA decision-maker will review all of the information and contact you and the lender, to clarify the issues or to request any further information.
AFCA will generally try to resolve your complaint by informal methods.
This includes, for example, by
- negotiation, or
If these methods don't work AFCA may:
- give the parties a preliminary assessment of the complaint, or
- determine the complaint.
What is a preliminary assessment?
A preliminary assessment will usually be given by phone. It will set out any reasons for the conclusions made about the merits of the complaint and give a recommendation about how the complaint should be resolved.
What happens after the preliminary assessment?
If both you and the lender accept the preliminary assessment the complaint is settled on this basis.
If either you or the lender do not accept the preliminary assessment, the complaint is referred to an AFCA ombudsman for a decision.
If the lender accepts the preliminary assessment and you do not respond the complaint will 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 included this information when you applied for the hardship variation with your lender.
Getting it right
AFCA will look at the information you provide about your financial position when conciliating (and, if necessary, determining) your hardship dispute. So 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, you need to ask yourself whether you can do without those things. If you are having trouble working out your living expenses, you should make a note of this on the form.
It is recommended that you get help from a financial counsellor when completing these forms.
Your Statement of Financial Position should be consistent with your repayment request in the hardship variation.
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, then you need to consider offering more in repayments.
- you cannot afford the repayments offered, the lender may reject the application because you are not likely to keep to the arrangement or be able to get back on track with your loan.
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.