With the mobile nature of Army life, you and your soldier can sometimes become accidental landlords if you have to rent out your property to undertake a posting elsewhere. Lt Col Penny Davies ALS (pictured above) told us how she overcame unfair disadvantage when renting out her home…

PENNY purchased her home in London in 2013, but was posted to Cyprus a year later.

She explained: “I wrote to my mortgage provider, Scottish Widows, who granted me permission to let. Due to my status in the Armed Forces, they waived the usual fee.”

Securing the best deal

Penny’s current mortgage deal ended on 1 April 2016 and she was advised that, from that date, her account would revert to the standard variable rate.

“Originally I was told that having reached the end of a two-year fixed interest rate period, I would not be entitled to benefit from a new one because I had ‘chosen’ to rent out my flat and work overseas,” she said. “It was clear that this policy had been developed without regard to the significant impact on members of the Armed Forces. I was left facing commercial disadvantage.”

Action taken

Penny contacted her bank to highlight how this issue related to the Armed Forces Covenant in the hope it would see the value of the principles that lay behind it and the government’s wish to rectify inadvertent disadvantages faced by those serving in the Armed Forces.

She said: “I reiterated that I had no control over where I was posted and asked them to consider allowing customers in my position not to miss out on accessing the interest rate deals offered to civilian customers.”

Penny was delighted when Scottish Widows eventually agreed to change its policies towards Armed Forces customers in April last year.

AFF view

AFF Employment, Training, Allowances & Money Specialist Laura Lewin said: “I’m pleased that Scottish Widows has amended their policy to allow Service personnel and their families who are unable to live in their own home due to postings, to rent out their properties without facing higher costs or having to change their existing mortgage deal.”

And it’s not just families posted abroad who will benefit as the majority of the UK’s high street lenders have extended an offer allowing Service personnel overseas to let out their home at no extra cost, to also include those posted within the UK.

Martin Fleming, MD Scottish Widows Bank, added: “We were very happy to have helped Penny as it is important to us to support those who serve or who have served in the Armed Forces and their families.”

Next steps

AFF has been working with banks and lenders for a long time and we are delighted progress has been made.

We will continue to ensure they honour their Covenant commitments and remove any disadvantage.

To find out more about how the Covenant could help you, visit armedforcescovenant.gov.uk or aff.org.uk – if you’re experiencing commercial disadvantage as an Army family, contact Laura at etam@aff.org.uk

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