Applying for a hardship variation - Mortgage stress
The best way to apply for a hardship variation is to put your request in writing. This way you and the lender have a clear record of what you have included in your application. A sample letter is included at the end of this page.
Written applications can be made by post, email or fax. You should make a copy of anything you send to the lender.
It is also possible to call your lender and ask for a hardship variation by phone. You should make notes of any phone conversation you might have about your hardship notice.
Remember: You should keep making regular repayments (or as much as you can afford) while you wait for a response to your hardship notice.
When you need to act immediately
If you have received court documents, or you have a default notice that is about to expire:
- You should immediately lodge a dispute with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), before applying for a hardship variation.
- After you have lodged the dispute, you can then contact your lender about a hardship variation.
Where do I send my hardship notice letter?
Send the letter to the internal dispute resolution contact for your lender.
You should get legal advice if your lender does not appear to be a member of AFCA.
Applying for a hardship variation by phone
If you are calling the lender to ask for a hardship variation, you need to make sure you cover the following points.
Make a note of date and time of the phone call and what is talked about.
Ask to be transferred to the financial hardship team (if there is one) or to customer service.
Give the details of your loan (account name and number, and the amount you pay each week/fortnight/month).
Tell the lender you are in financial hardship. Explain why you are having trouble making payments or why you are in financial hardship. For example, because you lost your job, have a serious illness. Tell the lender how long you think your financial problems will go on for.
Say that you want to change your loan repayments because you are experiencing hardship (in accordance with section 72 of the National Credit Code). Say what changes you want to make to your repayments and for how long. Say how you plan to return to normal repayments.
Ask how much your new repayments will be at the end of the variation. If you won’t be able to afford these new repayments, insist on extending the term of the loan instead.
Request that all legal action, default fees and default interest stop while the lender considers your request.
Ask for a postal address and/or email address for the lender. If you can, confirm the agreement in writing.
Checklist before applying for a hardship variation
Have you kept a copy of the letter or made notes of your phone conversation about who you spoke to, why you said you needed the variation, what changes you asked for?
Have you dated the letter or your notes of your phone application?
Have you asked for a change to your loan contract that you can afford and be able to keep to?
Are you keeping up your repayments while you wait for a response?