What is a repayment holiday?
A repayment holiday is exactly as the name suggests, a break from your usual debt repayments for a set period of time.
Also referred to as a ‘repayment pause’, you can reduce or avoid making your home loan repayments for up to six months, but this can go up to 12 months with some lenders.
Generally, the most common reasons for taking a repayment holiday are:
- Period of leave from the workforce/ changing jobs
- Parental/ maternity leave
- Installing water/energy saving devices (eco-pause)
- Short-term injury
A mortgage repayment holiday is typically only available for borrowers who are ahead of their scheduled repayments and is meant to help them manage their cashflows.
They are particularly useful for borrowers who do not have a redraw feature on their home loan.
However, please note that not all lenders have this repayment feature and are only available on a case by case basis.
It is not meant for customers who are experiencing financial hardship.
If you’re experiencing financial hardship, you can apply for a hardship variation with your lender.
What are the types of mortgage repayment holiday?
The types of mortgage repayment holiday available are:
- A full repayment pause wherein you stop making any repayments for an agreed-upon period of time.
- Partial repayment pause wherein you reduce your repayment amount to the requested amount i.e. you make 50% of your usual repayment.
- Interest-only repayments for the period.
During the repayment holiday, the accrued interest is added (capitalised) on top of your home loan balance.
How do I take a mortgage repayment holiday?
All repayment holidays are subject to bank approval.
A request must be made directly to your bank requesting a break in your repayment specifying the length of the holiday period required.
You can do this by calling their customer care hotline or visiting their nearest branch.
The lender may charge a fee between $0 to $500 per request.
Insured loans i.e. loans over 80% LVR are subject to the mortgage insurer’s policy.
Am I eligible for a home loan repayment holiday?
The factors that determine whether or not you’re eligible for a repayment holiday are:
- Your bank/ lender: Not all lenders offer this service. To find out if it is available to you, please read the terms and conditions on your loan offer documents.
- Your mortgage product: Mostly available for owner-occupiers on basic and standard variable rate loans and fixed rate loans.
- Your financial circumstances: You shouldn’t be experiencing financial hardship or have been in mortgage arrears.
But, generally to qualify:
- The home loan should have been with the bank for at least 12 months prior to applying.
- The home loan should not have been in arrears or had any missed repayments for up to six months prior to applying.
- The loan to value ratio should not exceed 80%, in which case, they fall under their mortgage insurance provider‘s policy.
- Generally, only owner-occupiers are eligible. A few banks allow this facility on portfolio loans.
- You must sign any documents the banks require when making a request to suspend your repayments.
Lenders also refer to this repayment feature as a ‘mortgage safety net’ or a ‘repayment pause’.
What are the disadvantages of a repayment holiday?
- Your repayments will likely increase once the repayment pause period ends.
- You pay more in interest over the life of the loan.
- It appears on your credit file under the repayment history information (RHI).
- When refinancing, you would require proof from the banks for the break on your home loan repayments.
What’s the true cost of a repayment holiday?
Let’ say you have a $400,000 mortgage with an interest rate of 3.5% p.a. where you’re making a principal and interest monthly repayment of $1,796.
After the first 12 months, your mortgage balance is now $392,323.49.
Now if you were to take a three month repayment holiday, the interest rate during that period gets added (capitalised) to your home loan principal.
At the end of the:
- First month: Accrued interest of $1,144.28 is added to your home loan balance.
- Second month: $1,147.61 is added.
- Third month: $1,150.96 is added
By the end of the three month period, your new mortgage balance will be $395,766.
You owe an extra $3,443 and because your loan balance is now higher but your loan term remains the same (29 years), your repayments will increase from $1,796 to $1,812.
You would have paid $646,624 in total if you had stuck to your original repayments. Instead, you’ll now pay $652,190.
That’s an additional $5,566 over the life of the loan.
Why do repayment holidays affect your credit score?
Under the comprehensive credit reporting system, your repayment history also shows up on your credit file.
So when you take a repayment holiday, it is reflected on your credit report as it’ll show that you haven’t been making your repayments under the section repayment history information (RHI).
If you were refinancing, you would need proof from your lender that a repayment holiday was granted for the period.
What are some other options?
Instead of a repayment holiday:
- Borrowers who have made extra repayments towards their home loan with a redraw facility can set up an automatic debit towards their mortgage repayments using the surplus funds.
- You may be able to switch from principal and interest repayment to an interest-only period with some lenders up to a maximum period of 12 months.
- Another way to reduce your mortgage repayments is to refinance your mortgage either with a better interest rate or extending your loan term. Please be aware that you’ll be paying more in interest over the life of the loan if you extend your loan term.
Is a repayment holiday the right option for you?
For expert advice on your home loans, please call us on 1300 889 743 or fill in our free online assessment form.