the contract is one where a lender provides credit to an individual or trustees (the 'borrower');
the contract provides for the obligation of the borrower to repay to be secured by a first legal mortgage on land (other than timeshare accommodation) in the United Kingdom; and
at least 40% of that land is used, or is intended to be used, as or in connection with a dwelling by the borrower (or, where trustees are the borrower, by an individual who is a beneficiary of the trust) or by a related person.
PERG 4.4.2 G to PERG 4.4.9 G set out the FSA's understanding of some key concepts contained in article 61(3)(a). It should be noted that, where a contract meets the necessary requirements for both a regulated mortgage contract and a home purchase plan, it will be treated as a home purchase plan only and will not be a regulated mortgage contract. Guidance on the meaning of a home purchase plan is in PERG 14.4 (Guidance on home reversion and home purchase activities)2.
Article 61(3)(c) of the Regulated Activities Order states that credit includes a cash loan and any other form of financial accommodation. Although 'financial accommodation' has a potentially wide meaning, its scope is limited by the terms used in the definition of a regulated mortgage contract set out in PERG 4.4.1 G. Whatever form the financial accommodation may take, article 61(3)(a) envisages that it must involve an obligation to repay on the part of the individual who receives it.
In the FSA's view, an obligation to repay implies the existence, or the potential for the existence, of a debt owed by the individual to whom the financial accommodation is provided (the 'borrower') to the person who provides it (the 'lender'). Consequently, for any facility under which any form of financial accommodation is being provided, the test is whether it allows for the possibility that the person providing the financial accommodation may be placed in a position where he becomes a creditor of the individual to whom he is providing it. An example of this would be the issue of a guarantee by a bank to a third party for an individual customer (such as a rent guarantee or a performance bond) where the guarantee is secured on a first legal charge over the customer's residential property. In the FSA's view, this would amount to a regulated mortgage contract as the customer would owe a debt to the bank in the event that the bank had to pay the third party under the guarantee.
The condition set out in PERG 4.4.1G (1) limits the range of borrowers to whom the protections of the mortgage regulation regime apply to individuals and trustees. If a company (which is not acting as a trustee) borrows money for the purpose of funding the company's business, and the loan is secured by a mortgage over the company's property, the mortgage contract is not a regulated mortgage contract. So a lender will not carry on a regulated activity by entering into that contract, nor will the lender carry on a regulated activity if it advises on, arranges or administers that contract. However, if the lender makes a loan for business purposes to an individual sole trader, or (in England and Wales) a partnership, and the loan is secured on the borrower's house or houses, the contract will be a regulated mortgage contract.
In order to meet the definition of a regulated mortgage contract, a mortgage contract must meet the conditions set out in PERG 4.4.1G (1) to PERG 4.4.1G (3) at the time it was entered into. The effect is that contracts which meet those conditions at that time remain regulated mortgage contracts throughout their remaining term, even if there are periods of time when some or all of the conditions are not satisfied. Conversely, contracts that do not start out as regulated mortgage contracts cannot subsequently become so, even if they meet all the conditions set out in PERG 4.4.1G (1) to PERG 4.4.1G (3). A person that only administers mortgage contracts which did not meet those conditions at the time they were entered into will not, therefore, need permission to administer regulated mortgage contacts.
There may, however, be instances where an existing contract, which was not a regulated mortgage contract at the time it was entered into, is replaced as a result of a variation (whether the variation is initiated by the customer or by the lender), and the new contract qualifies as a regulated mortgage contract. A person may therefore need to consider this possibility (which could affect contracts initially entered into before 31 October 2004 as well as subsequent loans) when deciding whether he needs permission to carry on any of the regulated mortgage activities.
The condition set out in PERG 4.4.1G (2) means that a regulated mortgage contract must be secured on land in the United Kingdom. Contracts which involve taking security over moveable property therefore cannot be regulated mortgage contracts. So a contract secured on a caravan will not be a regulated mortgage contract, unless the contract also involves a mortgage over the land on which the caravan stands.
The condition set out in PERG 4.4.1G (3) means that loans secured on property which is entirely used for business purposes (such as an office block) cannot fall within the definition. However, loans secured on 'mixed use' property could be covered, provided that the borrower (or trust beneficiary, where the borrowers are trustees) or a 'related person' uses at least 40% of the total of the land as or in connection with a dwelling. Loans secured on a six-floor property, half of which was occupied by the borrower and half let out for business purposes would therefore satisfy the definition. (Article 61(4)(b) makes it clear that 'land', in the context of a multi-storey building, means the aggregate of the floor area of each of the storeys.)
The expression 'as or in connection with a dwelling' set out in PERG 4.4.1G (3) means that loans to buy a small house with a large garden would in general be covered. However, if at the time of entering into the contract the intention was for the garden to be used for some other purpose – for example, if it was intended that a third party were to have use of the garden – the contract would not constitute a regulated mortgage contract. Furthermore, the FSA would not regard a loan to purchase farmland and a farmhouse as constituting a regulated mortgage contract (where the farmhouse and garden amount to less than 40% of the land area), since it does not appear that the land could properly be said to be used 'in connection with' the farmhouse. The presence of the farmhouse is unconnected with the use to which the farmland is put (in contrast to a residential property's garden, which would have no existence independent of the property).
The requirement that at least 40% of the land area be used as or in connection with a dwelling means that 'buy to let' loans secured on the property to be let will usually be excluded. However, such loans will not be excluded if:
the lessee is a 'related person' to the borrower. This will be the case even if the borrower subsequently takes possession of the property, as the conditions set out in PERG 4.4.1G (1) to PERG 4.4.1G (3) were not satisfied at the outset of the contract (see PERG 4.4.3 G); or
at the time the contract is entered into, the borrower has a real intention to use the land as, or in connection with, a dwelling (for example a member of the British Forces Posted Overseas who buys a property in the United Kingdom intending to live there on his return but which he lets out in the meantime).
'Related person' is defined in article 61(4)(c) of the Regulated Activities Order as meaning the borrower's spouse, civil partner, 1parents, grandparents, siblings, children and grandchildren. An unmarried partner of the borrower whose relationship with the borrower has the characteristics of the relationship between a husband and wife is also included; this can include a person of the same sex as the borrower. Stepchildren, however, would seem to be excluded.
The definition of regulated mortgage contract contains no reference to the purpose for which the loan is being made. So, in addition to loans made to individuals to purchase residential property, the definition is wide enough to cover other loans secured on land, such as loans to consolidate debts, or to enable the borrower to purchase other goods and services.
The definition of regulated mortgage contract also covers a variety of types of product. Apart from the normal mortgage loan for the purchase of property, the definition also includes other types of secured loan, such as secured overdraft facility, a secured bridging loan, a secured credit card facility, and so-called 'equity release loans' (defined as regulated lifetime mortgage contracts in this guidance) under which the borrower (usually an older person) takes out a loan where repayment of the capital (and in some cases the interest) is not required until the property is sold, usually on the death of the borrower.
A number of products, however, are excluded from the definition, such as:
loans secured by a second or subsequent charge (as the lender does not have a first charge);
loans secured on commercial premises (as the borrower will not be using the land as or in connection with a dwelling); and
so-called 'home reversion schemes', under which a property owner (usually an older person) sells some or all of his interest in the property in return for a lump sum (usually a proportion of the value of the property sold) and a right to reside at the property for the rest of his life. (It should be noted, however, that the Government announced in May 2005 that 'home reversion schemes' and 'flexible tenure products' are to be regulated by the FSA and that it would be introducing legislation to this effect.)
The effect of the Regulated Activities Order is that mortgage contracts which are varied can fall into one of the following categories:
a contract that was entered into before 31 October 2004, and that is subsequently varied on or after that date so that is satisfies the conditions set out in PERG 4.4.1G (1) to PERG 4.4.1G (3), will not be a regulated mortgage contract (because it was not a regulated mortgage contract at the time it was entered into);
a contract that was originally entered into before 31 October 2004, but is subsequently changed on or after that date such that a new contract is entered into, will be a regulated mortgage contract (provided, of course, that it meets the definition in the Regulated Activities Order); and
a regulated mortgage contract that was originally entered into on or after 31 October 2004, and which is subsequently varied by, for example, making a further advance, will remain a regulated mortgage contract.
It is possible for more than one mortgage contract to be secured by the same (first) charge. The first contract might be entered into before 31 October 2004 (and therefore not be a regulated mortgage contract) and a second contract entered into on or after 31 October 2004 (and be a regulated mortgage contract).