At the end of last May, several financial services consumer protection rules were approved, all already in force, which aim to ensure good supervision of the banking sector and to guarantee adequate access to financial services for the population.
One of the significant changes introduced by these rules is the elimination or proportional limitation of the collection of bank fees by credit institutions, as they are considered excessive or unjustified, the most significant being the general ban on loan processing fees, putting an end, since June 28, to an inequality vis-à-vis consumers who had entered into a credit agreement after January 1, 2021.
Also, consumers’ right to information about housing loans has been reinforced. Information on the simulation of the instalment for each discount item between the base spread and the contracted spread must be presented to the consumer, both at the time of contracting the credit and in the future, at the request of the consumer.
Regarding real estate valuation, institutions must now make the property valuation report available to customers within ten days of receiving it from the appraiser. Consumers can ask lenders to use the information issued less than six months ago, provided it was prepared by an expert registered with the Securities Market Commission. If such a request is refused, the credit institution may only charge the customer any new fees related to the valuation of the property if it can demonstrate that there have been relevant market changes and thus may not use a report issued more than three months ago.
The new rules also provide that credit institutions may not:
- Charge fees for changing the current account holder in certain cases, such as in the event of divorce/separation, death, or removal of the legal representatives of someone who has reached the age of majority.
- Charge a fee of more than 10% of the Social Support Index in the context of proceedings for the qualification of heirs due to the death of a current account holder.
- Charge any fees for photocopies of the institution’s documents concerning the consumer or for issuing duplicate bank statements or other documents.
- Charge a fee of more than 2% of the transaction value for coin deposits.
- Charge a fee for the service of sending funds to e-money accounts that is higher than the fee charged for the transfer service.
- Charge in addition to the fee associated with the default that occurs first, in case of default, in the same month, of the payment of instalments related to different credit agreements but secured by the same guarantee.
Lastly, credit institutions can’t create commissions or charges to meet the abovementioned limitations and impediments.
Thus, we can see that at a time of worsening living conditions for Portuguese families, there is an attempt to regulate their relationship with credit institutions, and we will await the effectiveness of these limitations on the performance of banking, whose supervision oversees Banco de Portugal.
The content of this information does not constitute any specific legal advice; the latter can only be given when faced with a specific case. Please contact us for any further clarification or information deemed necessary in what concerns the application of the law.