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News article

Banking problems hit Buyers, Sellers and Landlords

Banking problems at NatWest and other banks within the Royal Bank of Scotland group have caused significant problems for sellers, buyers and landlords.

If your home sale if going through today, and your solicitor cannot find out whether or not they have received the sale money for the property from the buyer's solicitors, they are faced with an extraordinary dilemma as to whether or not to allow the sale complete. Some solicitors are agreeing to proceed with completion as long as they receive some form of evidence from the buyer's solicitors that the payment has been sent, as well as an undertaking that the payment will not be recalled. If there is also a mortgage to pay off, the sellers' solicitors are in an even riskier position, because once the sale has completed they must pay off the mortgage the same day, as well as sending the sale proceeds to the seller. In effect, the solicitor is paying out money that it doesn't know it has received, which is potentially in breach of the Solicitors Accounts Rules. And yet, what choice do they have? To cancel the completions could jeopardise the whole sale chain as well as leaving many people's home moves, and other parties such as removal companies, in chaos.

If you are a landlord having your rent collected by a managing agent banking with one of these banks, and you're rent is due today, the agent may not know if they rent has arrived, in which case there is no way that the agent can forward the rent onto the Landlord, as there is no way of securing a binding commitment from a tenant at such short notice that the rent has been paid. For landlords with outgoing payments depending on the receipt of the rent, such as mortgage payments, this could result in difficulties. My advice is to contact creditors such as mortgage lenders to warn them of possible delays, rather than simply hope for the best.

Oliver Hudson CEO, Hudson Group

NatWest will open some branches on Sunday and extend closing times on Saturday in a bid to deal with a backlog caused by computer problems.

While the underlying computer failure is reportedly resolved, many customers remain unable to access accounts.

NatWest and Ulster Bank are part of the RBS group.

In a statement on the NatWest website on Friday, the bank said: "We are continuing to experience technical issues with our systems.

"As a result, money credited to accounts overnight may not be appearing on balances today. This problem is strictly of a technical nature and we are working hard to fix it as soon as possible.

"Staff in our branches and at our call centres are ready and available to answer any questions. Staff in branches will also be able to assist impacted customers who need access to cash."

The problem is understood to have arisen after staff tried to install a software update on RBS's payment processing system, but ended up corrupting it.

Most of the payments which had been missed on Wednesday night have now been processed, but many of Thursday night's payments have not got through. However, delays are worse at Ulster Bank.

NatWest has 7.5 million personal banking customers and said a large number had been affected. Ulster Bank said earlier that 100,000 of its customers had been affected.

22nd June 2012 BBC News

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